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NEW ORLEANS Pumps at the 17th Street canal failed to turn on automatically Tuesday night, forcing pump operators to manually start the system, the Corps of Engineers said Thursday.

The pumps did work as designed. However, when water reached the 61/2 foot maximum operating level in the canal, operators attempted to start the pumps from a remote control system but it didn't work.

Crew responded by going out to the pumps and starting them manually.

'Oft-maligned pumps performed admirably throughout a serious rain event,' said Ken Holder, spokesman for the Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District. 'When something doesn't work, it is inspected manually and the process begins to get it functioning. That's what happened here.'

The failure happened between pump station No. 6 on Metairie Road and the pumping station where Hammond Highway goes over the 17th street canal and into the lake.

The automatic control system, which is new, is designed to keep pump operators safe by keeping them out of a storm.

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