Fix the pumps

Thursday, November 30, 2006

June 1? Not so much

Yesterday on WIST-690 AM here in New Orleans, Col. Jeff Bedey of the Hurricane Protection Office was interviewed (disclosure: I was interviewed in the previous segment).

The interviewer asked him point blank if the extra pumps for London Avenue (8 pumps) and 17th Street (11 pumps) would be ready June 1. Surprisingly, Col. Bedey demurred and could only say they be ready sometime during the 2007 hurricane season.

I have since heard that the acquisition of the pumps, which is being handled under this solicitation, has had its response date moved back from November 20 to December 13.

I doubt these two events are disconnected.

The Corps has not updated their pump capacity webpage to reflect this latest delay.

Col. Bedey was also asked about the definitive lack of urgency on many Katrina repair projects since June 1. These include almost all the Orleans Parish pump station projects. Col Bedey patronizingly reminded the interviewer and the listeners that "we're in a marathon, not a 10k." He said "we need to pace ourselves." I hope he can feel so self assured when bearings fail on Orleans Parish's pumps.

Bedey was referring - in the usual elliptical way the Corps speaks to the public - to the fact they are working on levee and other flood protection upgrades which were authorized in the fourth Katrina supplemental and which are supposed to be finished by 2010. However, the work on the drainage system - repairs to the S&WB facilities and completing the floodgates - was authorized and funded in the earlier third supplemental, which was for all the work that was supposed to be done by June 1. So, when it comes to that work, the Corps should be sprinting to catch up, not slowing the pace.

That slowing of the pace is immediately obvious when one looks at the Corps' completion dates on the remaining Orleans Parish Pump Station repair projects (shown on their latest schedule). They stretch almost into 2008!


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