Wednesday, September 07, 2005

De-Watering New Orleans

According to the Army Corp of Engineers website, the de-watering of New Orleans is progressing. While they state that 60% of the city is still under water, the truly amazing aspect of this is just how much water they are moving through the pumps they have going. As of this morning, they have three pumps at 17th St. Canal at around 2250 cubic feed per second (CFS). Pump station 19 at the Industrial Canal, is currently pumping 1,300 CFS. Pump station 8, located in St. Bernard Parish is running at full capacity at 837 CFS. An additional 1000 CFS will be brought online when an additional generator is brought in sometime today.

Let’s put this in perspective. They have 4387 CFS running now. That equates to approximately 32,700 Gallons/Second. That’s right, 32,700 GALLONS PER SECOND. This is roughly 0.1 Acre-Foot (An Acre-Foot is an Acre, ~43000 sq. ft. covered by 1 ft of water).

So, at that rate:

  • The pool in my back yard (~20k gallons) would be full in about 0.6 seconds. About the blink of an eye. Pool empty -- blink – pool full. Wow! It took several days with several hoses to fill when that pool when it was built.
  • Using the acre-foot measurement, a one-acre plot of land would be filled with a foot of water in roughly 10 seconds.

Amazing what engineering might this country can bring to the table.

One note of concern is that all this water is going right back into Lake Pontchartrain. Environmental Secretary Mike McDaniel said the water will be pumped into Lake Pontchartrain even though it is fouled with corpses, sewage, heavy metals, gasoline, oil, tree branches, debris from houses and many other dangerous substances. The concern is that the water may permanently taint the lake. I personally have my doubts on that given all the connections to other bodies of water which in time could flush that out to sea.

One last thought.... It interesting to note that this is certainly not the first time New Orleans has been underwater. Most of the levees in the area were constructed after 1965 when Hurricane Betsy left much of the city under the lake's waters for weeks.

This too shall pass.



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