Karen Swensen and Thanh Truong talked to Sewerage and Water Board spokesman Richard Rainey about Friday's flooding issues. Here is a partial transcript.
WWL: Is the system working to capacity?
Rainey: That's a hard question. Capacity means many different things. Our pumping stations are all now working the best they can. We do have five pumps out, but we have 115 of 120...
WWL: So, is this as good as it gets?
Rainey: The system right now is operating well, we’re not having any issues with it, it’s just hard. It’s hard to keep up with these fast-moving, heavy-dumping rain storms.’
WWL: I’m sure you can see where people are frustrated and nervous. With hurricane season two weeks away now and if we can’t handle this, I’m sure people are wondering what can we handle when hurricane season gets here?
Rainey: We are keeping up with the rain the best we can. There is going to be some street flooding, there have been reports of that. We’re still working to bring another turbine on line. We’re still trying to get those 5 pumps repaired. We think we’ll be ready for hurricane season.
WWL: Can you say right now, where are we compared to last year? Has the system improved?
Rainey:We’re very much improved from where we were last year. I mean the system will have its limitations. It’s an old system we right now have. Last year we had 17 pumps out on August 5th, right now we have 5 pumps out. We were down to something below 30 megawatts of available power on Aug. 5. We now somewhere close to 60 or 70 megawatts of power. You only need about 52 megawatts to run the whole system full blast. We are confident that we have the infrastructure to handle rainstorms.
WWL: What about manpower?
Rainey: Well all the pump stations are manned. We have a full crew. The EOC is being manned. That’s not an issue here either.
What would you like to tell them that might reassure them.
Rainey: We are working as hard as we can. We have a very dedicated staff here. All of the pump stations are manned. They are working to the best of their availabilities. We are advising people to avoid the streets, watch out for underpasses.
How many of the pumps out are drainage vs. constant duty.
Rainey: 4 drainage and one constant duty.