When Hurricane Katrina ripped through the U.S. Gulf Coast in August 2005, it left immense devastation in its wake. The damage required the complete restoration of the New Orleans Hurricane Protection System (HPS) – an enormous project. Working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Black & Veatch helped to identify the best way to restore the city’s HPS. The solution did more than restore. It helps the people of New Orleans feel more confident about handling future flood events.
Prior to Katrina, New Orleans’ HPS relied on flood walls, levees and pump stations for protection. Approximately 50 breaches in the system triggered the flooding in more than 80 percent of the city. Many pump stations became inoperable when they were overcome by the floodwaters.
The USACE was charged with addressing the complex issue of avoiding a similar disaster in the future. They focused on finding the best technical and long-range engineering solution for the permanent protection of outfall canals. They valued Black & Veatch’s proven water resource skill and experience.
Black & Veatch explored the vast array of proposals and potential engineering solutions for evacuating the water in central New Orleans. They sought the “Best Technical Solution.” In fact, that phrase became the unofficial slogan of the project.
Several options were considered. One option involved designing and building entirely new pump stations and closure structures. Another option eliminated the old structures and deepened the new ones, along with the canals. A third alternative called for simply repairing or replacing the previous structures, eliminating the need for pump station construction.
To arrive at the right solution, a multi-phase approach was implemented. Phase I included a focused analysis to evaluate and determine decision criteria. Phases 2 and 3 established performance needs to assist in site selection, as well as performance-driven design criteria.
By implementing this plan, the city’s HPS has been fully restored and the potential for future flood damage from hurricanes has been reduced.