The New Orleans Network

by James T. Parsons, Freelance Writer; Manassas, VA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2000, Vol. 70, Issue 8, Pg. 46-49

Document Type: Feature article


Though Seattle and Portland are the cities usually associated with high rainfall, the New Orleans metropolitan area averages 58 in. (1,473 mm) of rainfall each year—more than any other U.S. city. With many parts of New Orleans located at or below sea level, the city has long relied on an intricate system of canals and pump stations to channel water away from low-lying areas, but severe storms still often result in flash floods, displaced residents and businesses, and thousands of dollars' worth of damage. In its first major inland drainage project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has offered funds and expertise to facilitate the $600-million Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA), one of the largest civil works projects in U.S. history. The SELA is composed of 52 individual projects designed to support the master drainage plans of the Jefferson and Orleans parishes. It includes 31.67 mi (51 km) of new and expanded canals, underground culverts, and pump stations, as well as other drainage infrastructure improvements, that together will increase the systemwide capacity to 96,355 cfs (2,729 m³/s), an increase of 12,000 cfs (340 m³/s), or 13 percent. Five other projects will provide flood protection for communities in St. Tammany Parish, located across Lake Pontchartrain. These projects call for improvements to major canals and bridge crossings, retention ponds, and the elevation of flood-prone structures.

Subject Headings: New Orleans | Louisiana | United States

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