Fix the pumps

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How much is left in the till?

With this statement from project manager Dan Bradley at the October 15, 2009 Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East meeting:
"Last year the maintenance cost [for the existing interim closure structures and pumps] was approximately $5 million. The cost of maintenance could increase each year and these costs are coming out of the project funds."

along with the knowledge that millions of additional dollars dollars have been spent on engineering over the past few years (those Black & Veatch reports don't come free, you know), a question has to be asked.

How much of the $802 million appropriated to the permanent pump project is left? Because it's not just maintenance and engineering that has caused the total to drop. Those amounts are possibly peanuts.

According to publicly available contract data, the Corps spent just over $400 million in building the interim closure structures. According to the January 2006 Project Information Report, which laid out the original scheme for the interim closure structures, the Corps originally budgeted around $141 million for the three structures and the original order of 34 hydraulic pumps (including 30% contingency on the construction constracts and then an additional 10% Engineering & Design, and 10% Supervision and Administration on top of all four). Here's the cost estimates from the January 2006 PIR:

Assuming the $141 million came out of the pots for immediate post-Katrina repairs (found in the 3rd Katrina Supplemental), which is a large assumption, where did the other $259 million come from? Somehow, the Corps had to pay for the procurement and installation of 19 direct drive pumps at 17th Street and London Avenue in 2007, along with a SCADA control system not originally budgeted.

One has to ask, did that $259 million - or more - come out of the permanent pump station project appropriation?


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