The Elmwood pumping station on Lake Pontchartrain, drains about 30-percent of Jefferson Parish; It helps prevent flooding from Metairie to Harahan, Power Blvd. to Clearview. Friday, parish leaders and the Army Corps of Engineers inspected major improvements to the structure.
The project includes a 21-foot high cement flood wall, pumps that can push water into the lake even during the worst storms and a new breakwater.
"Also, the gates that are going to give a positive shutoff in case we need it, the lake is high enough that requires the gates to stop the back-flow from the lake to the protected site," said Kazem Alikhani, director of Public Works.
It took about a year and a half to build the flood control structure.
"The combination with the breakwater, that knocks the wave down and this, the wall keeps the surge from coming in," said Carl Anderson, project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers. "It's high enough it's above the surge elevation."
During Hurricane Katrina, the storm surge did back up into the parish and flooded some neighborhoods.
A safe house will allow pump operators to work through future storms.
The pump station improvements, along with other ongoing flood mitigation projects are expected to provide a higher level of overall storm protection in Jefferson Parish.
"This is one piece of the big puzzle that we're doing all along the Jefferson lakefront," said Anderson. "We've built levees, we're doing this at all four pump stations and the west return wall is almost complete."
Elmwood is a large pump station," said Gustavo Silveira, project manager for the Odebrecht Construction, the general contractor on the project. "It takes care of a lot of people. The area that it covers is huge and today, this community is better protected."
With the pumps, the higher floodwall and hydraulic gates now in place, crews are getting ready to flood this basin. The whole area is expected to be under water and the pumping station on line by next week.
"We are much better protected than prior to Katrina," said Alikhani.
With Elmwood complete, the Corps now turns its attention to making similar improvements to the Bonnabel and Duncan pumping stations.