Neighborhoods Pushing Low-Rise Pumps at Lake



A coalition of at least a dozen neighborhood associations is promoting the idea of using low-rise pumps along the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue and London Avenue canals — instead of the massive, possibly 90-feet-tall pumps reportedly envisioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the area’s new flood protection plan. 


The neighborhood associations — including those representing Lakeview, Broadmoor, Lake Vista, Dillard, Lake Terrace, Bucktown, Mid-City, Lakeshore, Oak Park, Lake Oaks, Gentilly and Pontilly — will hold a forum on low-rise concrete volute pumps at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 in the St. Dominic School gymnasium, 6300 block of Vicksburg Street in Lakeview. Guest speakers include Shawn Stevenson, an engineer with KSB-USA Inc., a manufacturer of one type of concrete volute pump, and several design experts from Holland and Germany, where the low-rise pumps are in widespread use.


“Our associations want the best and safest pumps to be used in the planned new pumping stations and want to be certain all alternatives are considered,” says Al Petrie, president of the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association. Petrie added that the groups have invited members of the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish councils, area lawmakers, and representatives of the Corps of Engineers and the Sewerage and Water Board to attend.


Several sources in the neighborhood groups say the Corps of Engineers is resisting the idea of low-rise pumps, but no one has been able to explain why. There are widespread suspicions that the Corps already has a favored design, and such suspicions are not unfounded to anyone who has read John Barry’s Rising Tide or watched how the Corps operated before or since Katrina.


A flier promoting the forum says low-rise pumps are lighter, take up a smaller footprint, are far lower in height, have far less impact on green spaces and sight lines, put no grease or oil into area waters when in use (in contrast to the five pounds of grease per pump from traditional pumps), cost far less to build and maintain, and are more efficient hydraulically than traditional pumps.

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