GAO, testing, and real problems
This is from the press release about the GAO report found on Senator Landrieu's website:
"By June 1, the GAO told Sen. Landrieu, the Corps plans to have completed reinstallation of 40 pump systems that have each been tested for 45 minutes to two hours."
Two hours?!? 45 minutes?!? Are they serious?
The most recent test, at Orleans Avenue on Tuesday, May 15, 2007, only went for less than an hour. Why is the media, our government officials - hell, anyone else but me - not noticing the tremendous disconnect between these dog-and-pony shows the Corps is putting on and what is really needed to determine if the pumps work?
These pumps and drive units may need to run for somewhere between 12 and 24 hours during a storm. Remember that the original factory testing called for full performance testing. Then that was downgraded to a five hour endurance-and-reliability (E/R) test for the drive units only, with no performance testing for the pumps themselves. Then that was downgraded to a three hour E/R test. And by the end of the testing (according to the complete batch of inspection reports I got via FOIA recently) , some drive units were being sent to the field after just 45 minutes of testing. Only a tiny handful of the pump units were verified as meeting the specifications for flow and head.
Shockingly, one of the findings in the GAO investigation is that the Corps has been making up testing requirements as they go along. It's shocking because it seems they continue to do so to this very day, and are actually using the latest batch of tests as a defense that they're now doing the right thing. It's up-is-down thinking, and so brazen in its attempt to flim-flam the public and policymakers that I can't believe it. Why are these systems not being run for legitimate amounts of time? How can we be sure that they will work as designed if they haven't been tested under the conditions they are likely to see?
I understand that due to canal levels, it's impossible to run the entire systems (i.e. five or six pumps at a time) simultaneously for an extended period. However, there is no excuse - NO EXCUSE - for not running each individual drive-and-pump combination for a real world length of time. The Corps is continuing - to this day - to leave us in jeopardy of pump failure.