Fix the pumps

Friday, October 27, 2006

Your tax dollars at work

A big aim of mine has been to get temporary rental generators placed at a number of pump stations around town. I wrote about it in a post here.

These large trailer-mounted generators are not difficult to obtain; numerous companies all over the country rent them, including Welch Generator of Larose, LA. In fact, the Corps had one of its contractors, Quality Fab of St. Rose, LA, rent two of them back in mid-July. I snapped a picture of them, along with two smaller generators, on July 31 outside the Coast Guard station next to the 17th Street canal floodgates:

Each of the big generators is rated for 1350 kilowatts (kW). Each of the smaller generators is rated for 300 kW.

One of the big ones and both of the smaller units are now up on the 17th Street deck structure. I've shown their location in this photo:

And here's a detail:

However, the fourth generator remains sitting on Old Hammond Highway, unused. It has been there for over three months now. Here's a picture of it earlier this month.

It is still there.

The Corps is paying around $100,000 each for these large, trailer-mounted generators in rental costs. Thus, the Corps has wasted over $300,000 paying for the rental of a generator which has sat on the side of the road since July. This generator could have been providing vital backup power to any of about five pump stations in New Orleans during that time.

It's rare that one gets to see government waste as it happens. So the next time you're out at the lakefront, take a look at your tax dollars going down the drain on Old Hammond Highway in front of the Coast Guard station. And if you live in a neighborhood in New Orleans with drainage pumps that don't have backup generators (hint: most neighborhoods), thank the Corps for telling you that they're "not authorized" to place rental generators at the pump stations.

Update, 7/23/07:
This generator was finally hauled away in November of 2006. It was never used. By the time it was hauled away, it is likely that $500,000 had been wasted.


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