Fix the pumps

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Debris Part 11

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14

After the flurry of debris reports in east bank projects during the spring of 2010, the reports - oddly - seemed to stop for about a year. But they started appearing again in the spring of 2011 as the Corps rushed to beat their June 1st deadline.

In Orleans Parish, the first spring 2011 mention of debris was on LPV-106 in the April 8, 2011 report:
"Still clumpy rocks in section between [Corps project LPV-]107 & [Corps project LPV-]108 where seeding has taken place."

Here's the locations of those three projects:

LPV-106 came up again about a month later, in the May 4, 2011 report:
"Still concrete and debris in turf area."

These referred to areas of finished levee. The contrator (L&A) had apparently placed soil with excessive debris in it and had yet to remove the debris from areas where grass was attempting to be grown.

We know the reports from April and from May were referring to separate areas of LPV-106 because of the May 5, 2011 report, which had more detail:
"Contractor has started a crew from [project LPV-]107 west towards Read blvd clearing debris from levee section to be grassed next. They will also clear out left debris in reach 5 and reseed in areas that grass has not established. Tuesday I will inspect levee clean up as contractor plans to seed next week."

The section of LPV-106 from LPV-107 west toward Read Blvd. is part of the much larger western section of the project, as opposed to the report in April of the smaller eastern patch between LPV-107 and LPV-108.

The same report noted debris in the soil on the flood side of the levee at adjacent project LPV-107 (contractor: Shavers-Whittle):
"debris removal and grading on flood side of levee."

About a week later, the May 11, 2011 report mentioned the contractor and the Corps had declared victory over the debris at LPV-106:
"contractor has cleared access rubble/debris from 107 tie in till Jahncke pump station [aka Sewerage & Water Board drainage pump station 14]. Contractor has not been able to confirm when seeding will take place."

Here's the location of Read Blvd. and the Jahncke Pump Station:

It was clear the debris problems were not conquered in May, because a month later they were still getting mentioned in LPV-106 updates. In the June 16, 2011 report we learned:
"Contractor is continuing to address debris in levee."

Frustratingly, none of these reports include photos. However, it is clear debris continued to be an issue even past the vaunted June 1, 2011 deadline when the Corps declared the system 100 year storm ready.

A second batch of spring 2011 debris reports comes from the Corps projects in St Bernard Parish. They're located here:

On February 24, 2011, the SLFPA-E inspector wrote about project LPV-148.02 (contractor: Cajun Construction):
"Observed fill material at top of levee slope appear to be non compliant with more than one percent contaminants in work area 1A and 1B."

The following day's report had a bit more detail:
"Discussed issues found on previous day's observation with Butter Compton. 1. Quality of backfill used for dressing levee does not conform to specification. Also quite a bit of dirt was left on stabalization slab. Butter talked with contractor and a coordination meeting is scheduled for Tuesday March 01, 2011."

We never find out what happened. The inspection reports are silent. However, debris continued to be a concern elsewhere.

LPV-146 (contractor: St Bernard Levee Partners), April 1, 2011:
"Contractor backfilled area on protective side with concrete rubble at the 90 degree turn in the wall at MRGO and Verrett [sic] wall."

See the map above for the sharp bend at the southeast corner of LPV-146.

Fortunately, we got pictures of this incident:

The reports don't indicate whether the concrete rubble was later removed.

LPV-145 (contractor: Chalmette Levee Constructors), April 4, 2011:
"There was discussion about debris and gravel in the slopes of the flood side. It appeared that the haul road material was pushed into the slopes of the flood side."

LPV-147 (contractor: Integrated Pro Services), April 5, 2011, after a pre-final inspection:
"There is unsuitable material and debris in the earthwork of the protective side slopes.

LPV-149 (contractor: Conti Group), June 16, 2011:
"There are concerns for backfilling with debris and trash."

That's seven projects with 2011 reports of debris in the dirt. That's on top of the six projects with debris concerns in the spring of 2010.

If you then combine that with the 9 west bank projects with debris problems...

You get 22 projects where debris has been a problem either in the existing levee, in the new levee, or in both.

22 projects.

Is it now obvious there is a systemwide problem with the integrity of the levees built by the Corps? It should be.


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