Fix the pumps

Friday, January 26, 2007


I haven't posted for a while. So let me get you updated on what I've seen around town.

1. Rewinding of pump motors.
I believe this contract is finally finished. I stopped by Station 2 on North Broad a few days ago, and the final pump motor appears to be done. I haven't been by Station 5 in the Lower Ninth Ward, but Bollinger has to be done with the motors in that station by now.

2. Corps takes out pumps from 17th St floodgates.
Within the last two weeks, with no public notice, the Corps has started removing pumps from the 17th St. floodgates. The pumps they are taking out are the 22 or 23 rental pumps that were installed on the deck of the floodgates late in the 2006 hurricane season. You can see them in this old shot from WWL's webcam:

As you can see from this shot taken from WWL's camera today, the engines are gone:

On a side note, notice they are still working on the MWI pumps at the lower right corner of the frame. Those pumps have been pulled and put back repeatedly since their installation last July.

The rental pumps were intended to give an extra bit of pumping capacity beyond that provided by the original dozen MWI 60" pumps installed in the canal. Officially, the rentals provided a total flow of around 1200 cubic feet per second.

The Corps, after installing the original dozen, cast around for extra pumping capacity for a while before they gave Boh Brothers - the prime construction contractor on the site - permission to purchase six additional MWI 60" pumps identical to the first twelve. Two would be installed on the east (Orleans) side of the canal, while the other four would go in on the west (Jefferson) side. The Corps blew numerous deadlines installing these extra six pumps.

The pair on the east side are now installed and appear to be ready to go. However, the quartet on the west side, which were originally envisioned for operation last September, remain unfinished. While the pumps and their engines are installed on a spanking new platform, the pipe into which they discharge is not complete, and the vacuum breakers (those powder blue things on top of the pump discharge pipes) are not yet installed. Even when all of that gets done, there is still testing and commissioning of the pumps and engines, which could take one to two months. It will likely be late March before the four pumps on the west side of the canal are ready.

Each of the 60" pumps can flow about 200 cfs. The Corps plays around with capacity numbers all the time (10 pumps at Orleans Avenue will flow 2200 cfs, or 220 cfs each, while 12 pumps at London Avenue will flow 2800 cfs, or 233 cfs each? That makes no sense). Based on the problems they have had over the months with these pumps, I think 200 cfs is a safe number to run with. Besides, that's exactly the number cited in the very recent Pentair press release for the extra pumps to be provided by Fairbanks-Morse (Pentair optimistically gives credit for 18 pumps, each flowing 200 cfs each, for a total of 3600 cfs).

So what does all this mean? I believe the rental pumps were intended to be there until the six new MWI pumps were ready, since the total flow for the six new pumps is the same as that for the rentals. However, four of those six new pumps are not ready, and won't be for weeks or months. I understand that we are outside hurricane season, but what is the rush to get the rental pumps out of there? What if there are problems with the new pumps?

Also, it means the actual available capacity at 17th Street is 14 x 200, or 2800 cfs, not the 4000 cfs the Corps has been saying.

3) Reeves Electrical Services wins again, and again.
I've written before about how Reeves Electrical Services of Pierre Part, LA has come out of nowhere to start winning bigger and bigger contracts from the Corps. They've recently gotten two more.

As I reported befor, the first is for the $2.6 million installation of the backup 60 cycle generators at Station 6 on the 17th Street Canal. The Corps has never announced anything about this contract except for a tiny mention on page 5 of their December 1st newsletter. It is extremely unclear if this contract was competitively bid. According to the sign at the site, work began on November 17th. At the January 10th meeting of the Jefferson Parish Council, the Corps said the generators would be ready by April 30th.

The second contract will be taking place on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish, and is detailed in this brief Times-Picayune article from January 12, 2007. Apparently, RES got a $1.5 million to replace an electric pump with a diesel one.

I encourage you to read my previous post on Reeves, because it details how the Corps uses the Section 8(a) program, which does not require open bids. Other Section 8(a) companies, such as Crown Roofing and IPS of Louisiana, have also been beneficiaries of the Corps' New Orleans office. Note that IPS won the bearing replacement contract for station 1, 6, and 19 through a open bid process, but the Corps has never announced who won the other two bearing replacement contracts. I do know they weren't openly bid.

A list of Louisiana Section 8(a) companies can be found on this SBA spreadsheet (also saved here in case it disappears) starting on row 6194.


  • I came across this site by accident. I'm a very busy mother of 3 children and so not have time to research what you have been blogging about. The reason I am writting is because of your sceptisism of RES. I know for a fact that RES has done supurb work for the Corps. RES bid on the pumping station jobs in Venice and got the job because no one else bid. The corps told the RES superindentants personally,(to their faces) they were very impressed with the fine work they did in a very timely manner. They showed up when they were expected to and was very detailed, neat and dependable. RES in a fine upstanding company run by one of the most upstanding gentleman of Assumption Parish. When you find good work for a fair price, why look anywhere else!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 14, 2007 11:06 PM  

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