As suspected the pumps in New Orleans were not ready last summer. The AP reports documents they have obtained chronicled that the pumps were defective and would have failed during a storm…and ACE knew it…
NEW ORLEANS –The Army Corps of Engineers, rushing to meet President Bush’s promise to protect New Orleans by the start of the 2006 hurricane season, installed defective flood-control pumps last year despite warnings from its own expert that the equipment would fail during a storm, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The 2006 hurricane season turned out to be mild, and the new pumps were never pressed into action.But the Corps and the politically connected manufacturer of the equipment are still struggling to get the 34 heavy-duty pumps working properly.
The drainage-canal pumps were custom-designed and built under a
$26.6 million contract awarded after competitive bidding to Moving
Water Industries Corp. of Deerfield Beach, Fla. It was founded in 1926
and supplies flood-control and irrigation pumps all over the world.
MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons.Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has
donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the
Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive
Misgivings about the pumps were chronicled in a May 2006 memo
provided to the AP by Matt McBride, a mechanical engineer and
flooded-out Katrina victim who, like many in New Orleans, has been
closely watching the rebuilding of the city’s flood defenses.
The memo was written by Maria Garzino, a Corps mechanical engineer
overseeing quality assurance at an MWI test site in Florida. The Corps
confirmed the authenticity of the 72-page memo, which details many of
the mechanical problems and criticizes the testing procedures used.
In her memo, Garzino told corps officials that the equipment being
installed was defective. She warned that the pumps would break down
“should they be tasked to run, under normal use, as would be required
in the event of a hurricane.” (all emphasis mine)
Matt McBride who provided the document to AP is the author of an excellent blog called Fix the Pumps. So follow his blog to see if the pumps will be ready this year.