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NOLA Levees Flawed


Studies Confirm New Orleans Levees' Flaws

By BRETT MARTEL (Associated Press Writer)
From Associated Press
December 01, 2005 2:31 PM EST
NEW ORLEANS - Government engineers performing sonar tests at the site of a major levee failure confirmed that steel reinforcements barely went more than half as deep as they were supposed to, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official said Wednesday.

"We've come up with similar results" to those from earlier tests performed by Louisiana State University engineers, said Walter Baumy, the Corps' chief engineer for the New Orleans District.

Baumy said the Corps intends to pull out pieces of the remaining wall along each edge of the breach at the 17th Street Canal to verify the sonar test results. The canal itself is now mostly dry at the breach site, with temporary walls holding back water from each side.

Baumy said the Corps cannot explain the disparity between what its 1993 design documents show was supposed to be there and what they've found.

The documents indicated that the steel reinforcements in the levee, known as sheet piling, went to a depth of 17.5 feet below sea level. Sonar tests indicated the pilings went only to 10 feet below sea level, meaning the flood wall would have been much weaker than intended.

The LSU team is working on a report for the state that will say there were serious, fundamental design and construction flaws at both the 17th Street and London Avenue canals. Both broke during Hurricane Katrina, flooding much of the city.

The team's leader, Ivor van Heerden, said Wednesday that the levee design ensured failure under the type of water pressure exerted by Katrina's storm surge.

The team's computer modeling showed that the designs failed to account for loose, porous soils such as sand and peat that were prone to allowing water to seep from the canal through to the dry side of the levee.

Much deeper steel pilings driven well below the canal bottoms likely would have stopped seepage to the dry side, engineers have said. The bottom tip of the pilings, at 10 feet below sea level, did not reach the canal bottoms.

But LSU computer models showed that even if the pilings had gone to 17.5 feet below sea level at 17th Street as design documents said they should have, they still would have failed.

Engineering studies prior to construction of the flood wall were performed by Eustis Engineering, Modjeski and Masters Inc. and the Corps. Members of the LSU team have expressed shock that all three could have missed what they characterized as fundamental flaws.

Calls to Eustis and Modjeski and Masters were not returned Wednesday. Van Heerden said the federal government bears ultimate responsibility.

I do a lot of work with construction of water treatment plants.

The design engineers are generally so anal about every little detail sometimes you have to sandblast and repaint equipment because it does not meet some bogus paint spec.

There is no way they could have shorted the pilings by 7.5' and not get caught unless there was some payoff involved.


Its obvious why they were short. It was about cost-cutting. Remember that during that time, the military budgets were being cut left and right. This is more than likely the result of that budget slashing.


Shit, you didn't have to look that up, I could have told you that.


If this report is true it should be possible to track down those involved. God help them.

I agree that their was some cost cutting involved but I doubt it was the Army Corp. They would just not have built it or changed the design to 10'. If the 17.5' design was the approved spec and that wasn't put in, you have fraud on the part of the contractor who did the work. The payoff mentioned would have been from the contractor to the Army Corp innspector on the job.

This is not unheard of in the construction industry, especially in Louisianna. It will be interesting to see how high the payoffs went. Seems to me a lot of people would have known about it. Vendors, operators, engineers, inspectors. That's a lot of people...someone will talk.


Not a chance. If it was on the print it should have been built. This shortcut has nothing to do with the military budget.


That's right. This boils down to under the table payoffs. Pretty much like everything else that fails in this state.


The fucking Army Corp of Engineers are at fault and nothing will happen because they are immuned to law suits. Meanwhile, people that have paid taxes and flood insurance have to fight in court with their Insurer.

I can tell you first hand that things are really bad down here and hurricane season is only6 or so months away.

The flooding should have never happened, not even because of Katrina.


Really? NOLA and corruption? HA! Perish the thought!

But seriously. People talk about good ol' boy networks. Try to win a construction contract in New Orleans. You could get Bechtel in there with a lower, quicker bid and it'd still goto Jimbo's Construction Co.


Your from rotten ass Alabama and still willing to throw stones at NOLA about corruption?

And what is your first hand experience in submitting bids for work in NOLA?

Or are you just going by hear-say?