In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as part of its plan to prevent future levee failures, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorized the design and construction of a series of isolating gate structures, more than 15 feet in height, across the northern end of two particularly vulnerable canals. A team was assembled to design, test and construct the gates as well as pumping stations housing 33 huge direct-drive pumps. Total capacity of all pumps running together is 5.4 billion gallons per day over the gates into Lake Pontchartrain.
On May 13, 2008, USACE tested the gates during a simulated hurricane named “Zeus,” and the system performed flawlessly. Four months later, Hurricane Gustav hit the city and, in their first non-test scenario, the gates and pumps performed as expected. Col. Al Lee, USACE District Engineer in New Orleans, was responsible for operating the gates and pumps and reported that the emergency structures functioned at a high level.
total capacity of all pumps is 5.4 billion gallons per day
pumping rate objective exceeded by more than 15%
height of gates mandated by the USACE determined to provide the best benefit/cost ratio