Monday, June 5, 2006

Army Admits that Levee Design was Flawed


The NY Times reported on the June 1 Army Corps of Engineer study of the causes of the disaster in New Orleans, attached here:  Katrina_Corps_study_of_levees.pdf


[T]the Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged today that the levees it built in the city were an incomplete and inconsistent patchwork of protection, containing flaws in design and construction, and not built to handle a hurricane anywhere near the size of Katrina.

"The hurricane protection system in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana was a system in name only," said the draft of the nine-volume report.

The region's network of levees, floodwalls, pumps and gates lacked any built-in resilience that would have allowed the system to remain standing and provide protection even if water flowed over the tops of levees and floodwalls, the report's investigators found. Flaws in the levee design that allowed breaches in the city's drainage canals were not foreseen, and those floodwalls failed even though the storm waters did not rise above the level that the walls were designed to hold.

But the system was also overwhelmed in significant ways by Hurricane Katrina, and some degree of flooding would have happened even if the floodwalls had not been topped by the surging waters, the report stated.

"Regardless of breaching or no breaching, there would have been massive flooding and losses" from Katrina, said Dr. Ed Link, the director of the study and an engineering professor at the University of Maryland, in an interview. "The losses were increased because of the breaching that occurred," he said.

Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, North America, Physical Science, US, Water Resources | Permalink

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