City officials say the roughly 10 inches of rain that fell on New Orleans Saturday was too much for the city’s 24 pump stations to handle. Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board Cedric Grant says the pumps were running at full capacity, despite inches of water pouring into homes and businesses throughout the city.
“There’s been a lot of deferred maintenance on those facilities, but still generally the system works within its designed limits,” Grant said.
Grant says the system is designed to pump out one inch of water in the first hour and half an inch for each subsequent hour. He says they’ve estimated they should be spending $30 million a year on catch basin and subsurface drainage, but there’s not enough funding to make the necessary improvements.
“They put what they can in their budget, but it’s nowhere near what it ought to be in relation to doing catch basin maintenance and repair,” Grant said.
Grant says the pumps were operating at 100 percent pumping capacity throughout the weather event, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. He says they did everything they could to prepare. But he says no one expected upwards of 10 inches of rainfall in only a few hours.
“We anticipated that the rain event was going to come. So we took some action in advance,” Grant said,
“First of all we engaged in lowering the elevation of the water in the canal so we could create the additional drainage capacity as the water came.”