U.S. Water News Online
NEW ORLEANS -- Area levees that appeared to be undamaged
after Hurricane Katrina are getting another inspection, this time by
private contractors hired by the Army Corps of Engineers.
"Although our guys have been out there looking since shortly after
Katrina, this is a reassessment of everything and, to some degree, an
inventory of the entire system," corps spokesman Rob Brown said. "We
already know about the bad spots and some of the more moderately bad
spots, but this is the fine tooth comb approach that will tell us
everything and document it."
The new inspections come after independent teams of engineers,
including the American Society of Civil Engineers, expressed serious
concern that findings at spots where levees burst indicate
engineering mistakes that could potentially plague the entire system.
"This assessment will help us address our own concerns about the
system we built and live behind every day, and it will also address
the concerns of the ASCE and others," Brown said.
Brown said the contractors have been asked to walk the entire 350
miles of the hurricane protection system; confirm existing elevations
of every flood wall, levee, and gate; and conduct soil analyses in
all areas where levees or flood walls show signs of distress.
"The results of this evaluation will tell us exactly what else we
need to do," said Al Naomi, corps senior project manager of the Lake
Pontchartrain and vicinity hurricane protection project.
The four companies chosen by the corps to do the work include:
AIMS Group Inc. and Brown, Cunningham, Gannuch, Brown, both of
Metairie; HNTB Corp. of Baton Rouge; and Arcadis G & M Inc., of
Highlands Park, Colorado.
Contracts were negotiated earlier this month, and all four
companies began field work this week, Brown said.
Ivor Van Heerden, assistant director of the LSU Hurricane Center
and a member of the Team Louisiana group that has been probing levee
failures independent of the corps, commended the corps for hiring the
contractors and said he hoped all deficiencies will be reported when
they are detected and not when the entire the project is finished.
"Neither Team Louisiana nor the Berkeley group had the money to do
such an inch-by-inch review, but we all agreed that it was needed
because people must know just how safe the system is in order to
determine how much risk they are willing to assume," Van Heerden
said. "One would hope that that tradition of openness continues as
the corps and its contractors move forward with this new assessment."
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