With many parts of New Orleans located at or below sea level, the city has long relied on an intricate drainage system of canals and pump stations to channel water away from low-lying areas. Generally, the system can contain a 10-year rain event, which for that area equals 9.5 in. (241 mm) in 24 hours, but more severe storms often result in flash floods, displaced residents and businesses, and thousands of dollars' worth of damage. The result is the $600-million southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA), one of the largest civil works projects in U.S. history and the first major urban drainage improvement program to be managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. SELA is actually composed of 52 individual projects designed to support the master drainage plans of Jefferson and Orleans parishes. Under SELA's cost-sharing provisions, the Corps funds 75% of each project. The balance in provided by local government sponsors. Canal improvements have ranged from the simple widening and deepening of earthen channels to lining the base and slopes with concrete. Other trapezoidal canals have been replaced by U-shape concrete flumes or underground box culverts. Pump station projects have included construction of three new facilities and improvements to six others. SELA appears to be right on schedule, with final construction contracts expected to be awarded by the end of October 2001.


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  • Accession Number: 00798360
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 8 2000 12:00AM