Fix the pumps

Friday, May 18, 2007

GAO, testing, and real problems

Yes, the GAO has presented their findings to Senator Landrieu's office. I'll have more to say about this later. However, I urgently need to zero in on the high-profile testing the Corps has been doing after refitting of the pump unit hydraulic motors. They are also replacing much (not all) of the hosing at the pump units with hard pipe. They are continuing to act in the exact bad-faith manner called out in the GAO report.

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.


  • Matt,
    And in the mean time thes things get into the national news stream...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 18, 2007 10:47 AM  

  • Why don't they run the pumps at the gates when we have the big rainstorms? They would have lots of water and the canal levels would be kept down. Or would it just come back into the canals from the lake?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 18, 2007 9:56 PM  

  • Matt -

    Solicit anonymous posts from engineers employed with the suit-immune government contractors like Boh and Eustis and the rest. They can't go public because they will lose their job, but if the concern is fed to you for public airing, we'll all be the better for it. Hang tight, good man.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 20, 2007 6:26 AM  

  • An addendum re: anonymous posts from engineers of government contractors: Such posts would also help other government contractors know what is going on, or not. The beauty of this ACE scheme is that no government contractor has the complete picture (other than a cursory general overall picture). The government contractors just do little their part and all is well. This is about as transparent as mud. The floodwalls are more transparent....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 20, 2007 6:37 AM  

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