Wednesday, August 31, 2005

canal breach update: lake and floodwater levels have equalized

Hi folks,
Here is a post from the Times-Picayune about the levee breach. It seems that water has stopped pouring into the city from the lake, and has even started to recede a little, as the levels have equalized. When the tide rises tonight, though, this is expected to change.


Tidal shift

Maj. Gen. Don Reily, head of the U.S. Corps of Engineers' storm recovery operation, said at midday Wednesday that Lake Pontchartrain water level has dropped and has “equalized” with flood-waters in the city. That means water has begun to recede, flowing back into the lake, at a rate of approximately a half-inch an hour.

The general said this should continue, except during a high tide “later in the evening.”

“As it (the water) recedes this will help” the attempt by the Corps and the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board to temporarily plug the breach in the 17th Street Canal and drive sheet-pilings and also possibly rock into the junction of the canal at Lake Pontchartain,” the general said.

In the two-pronged operation, the huge sandbags and “concrete jersey-barriers are being dumped into the flood-wall breach,” by the Corps, the general said at a press conference in Baton Rouge early Wednesday afternoon where a New Orleans Sewer and Water official and U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter also spoke.

“We’ll certainly have to build it up quite a bit just to restore temporary integrity,” the general said.

If these two attempts are successful, and the lake recedes more, the next step will start as soon as the city gets power to their pumps, he said. The temporary plug at the lakeshore will then be removed so that pumping station Number 6, which he said handles about 10,000 cubic feet of water per second, can began pushing water out of that canal into the lake, he said.

“It should take a minimum of 30 days to get the water out of the system,” he said. “Then of course after that there’s quite a lot of sediment and debris and a lot of material to be removed, and it will take much longer to get that,” he said.

“We have a contractor with three barges of rock that’s out on the lake now,” he said. “The challenge is getting access to the site –- inside the canal to the flood-wall, but it possibly can be used at the entrance to the lake although we prefer to use something more temporary that we can remove quickly.”