Tuesday, July 9, 2019

New Orleans Levees Sinking

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the New Orleans levees are sinking faster than expected.  WWL-TV reported:




This is the 14th hurricane season since New Orleans’ storm protection system of levees and floodwalls failed, the second since the Corps of Engineers completed an 11-year, $14.6 billion project to repair and restore that system.

But the summer of 2019 brings with it a new level of concern.

That’s because it’s the first hurricane season since the Army Corps of Engineers officially notified Congress that global sea-level rise and southeast Louisiana’s soft, subsiding soils have caused earthen levees to sink faster than expected, requiring another $800 million to meet the level of risk reduction it promised in 2007.

The need for so-called “levee lifts,” where clay and fill are added to the tops of levees to restore their height, is no surprise. It was always expected that lifts every 10 years or so, would be necessary to keep the levees at a sufficient height for 50 years, through 2057.

But the cost and speed at which they’ve descended have caught many off-guard.

Former Louisiana State University scientist Ivor Van Heerden, who led the Team Louisiana investigation of the Katrina levee failures, said sections of levee along the upper Industrial Canal were observed before Katrina sinking at a rate of about 2 feet over 20 years.

But a Corps analysis from 2016 showed the tops of typical sections of perimeter levees sinking much faster than that after Katrina. Schematics show sections of levee built up to a crown height of 14.5 feet above sea level, had compacted to just 10 feet above sea level by 2016.

“Since initial construction completion between 2012 and 2014, the subject earthen levee sections of both the LPV and WBV (West Bank & Vicinity levee system) projects have continued to settle and subside,” the Corps wrote in a review plan dated June 6, 2016. “Many existing reaches need a lift or may need a lift within a few years to stay above the” promised standard.

Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority requested raising those sections an extra 6 inches to 15 feet above sea level in a new round of levee lifts that have already begun....

Van Heerden said those new costs could have been avoided if the Corps had followed the advice in the Team Louisiana report to include “freeboard,” extra room at the top of the levees to account for anticipated sinking for the whole life of the project, through 2057.

“This is inexcusable,” he said. “When you have a $14 billion project, you build in freeboard.”... Rest of article. 

Dr. Van Heerden? Remember him?  He tried to tell the truth about the levees but was fired for his efforts.  The Baton Rouge Business Report reported in 2013:

Van Heerden earned his doctoral degree from LSU in 1983, and returned to work for the university as an associate professor of research nearly two decades later. He served as deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center from July 1999 until April 2009, when he was informed his contract would not be renewed. All told, LSU’s actions cost it nearly $1 million in attorney’s fees and settlement costs.

His conclusion that the Corps of Engineers bore responsibility for the post-Katrina flooding, during which 2,000 people died and thousands more lost their homes, elicited years of consternation among top university administrators and government officials, as detailed in hundreds of pages of documents filed in van Heerden’s court case.

According to court records, then-Vice Chancellor Michael Ruffner initially told van Heerden to stop responding to the media. Later, university administrators took away his teaching duties and restricted his access to the supercomputer for research. Ultimately, David Constant, then-interim dean of the College of Engineering, fired him. Constant was one LSU administrator named as a defendant in van Heerden’s lawsuit, along with former Vice Chancellor Brooks Keel, former Associate Vice Chancellor Robert Twilley, and former Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Chairman George Voyiadjis..... Article
No one likes a Cassandra.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

https://youtu.be/PVrEwCa8nSA

Anonymous said...

What a complex situation south of I-10 LA is in. The marsh is eroding very fast. The Marsh helps soften the blow of hurricanes. To rebuild the marsh, you need fresh water diversions and sediment to build up. The fishermen bitch and complain the it hurts the fishing, so they lobby against it, all the while turning the marsh's and bayous into big lakes and open bays eroding and moving northward with the salt water intrusion. Also, you have people posting bayous and canals and other public waters as private since they used to own the land underneath the water. They are paying little to no tax and running off fishermen that are a staple of income to South LA. As to the levees, don't build your city in a hole, and don't send your freshwater through the MS Sound via the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

Cynical Sam said...

The Army Corps of Engineers - too big to fail.

Anonymous said...


Thirty miles on the Gulf Stream
I hear the south wind moan
The bridges getting lower
The shrimp boats coming home

The old man down in the Quarter
Slowly turns his head
Takes a sip from his whiskey bottle
And this is what he said

I was born in the rain on the Pontchartrain
Underneath the Louisiana moon
I don't mind the strain of a hurricane
They come around every June

The high black water, a devil's daughter
She's hard, she's cold and she's mean
But nobody taught her, it takes a lot of water
To wash away New Orleans

Man came down from Chicago
He gonna set that levee right
He says, "it needs to be at least three feet higher
It won't make it through the night"






But the old man down in the Quarter
He said "don't you listen to that boy
The water be down by the morning
And he'll be back to Illinois"

I was born in the rain on the Pontchartrain
Underneath the Louisiana moon
I don't mind the strain of a hurricane
They come around every June

The high black water, a devil's daughter
She's hard, she's cold and she's mean
But nobody taught her, it takes a lot of water
To wash away New Orleans

Thirty miles on the Gulf Stream
I hear the South wind moan
Bridges getting lower
The shrimp boats coming home

The old man down in the Quarter
Slowly turns his head
Takes a drink from his whiskey bottle
And this is what he said

I was born in the rain on the Pontchartrain
Underneath the Louisiana moon
I don't mind the strain of a hurricane
They come around every June

High black water, a devil's daughter
She's hard, she's cold and she's mean
But nobody taught her, it takes a lot of water
To wash away New Orleans

I was born in the rain on the Pontchartrain
Underneath the Louisiana moon
I don't mind the strain of a hurricane
They come around every June

The high black water, a devil's daughter
She's hard, she's cold and she's mean
But nobody taught her, it takes a lot of water
To wash away New Orleans
Nobody taught her, it takes a lot of water
To wash away New Orleans

Anonymous said...

When is the Federal Government going to get the political will to abandon the low lying areas of the nation that have become too costly to protect. New Orleans has been that way since it was incorporated.

Frank Griffin said...

2:20, I don't worry about the devil's daughter near as much as I worry about Mother Nature.

As it says in The Book: "No man can set straight that which God hath made crooked."

Anonymous said...

I don’t believe “climate change” is the cause of a levee to sink.

Anonymous said...

@3:25 Are you suggesting we "abandon" New Orleans ?

Cynical Sam said...

New Orlean - too big to fail. To do otherwise would be racist.

Anonymous said...

Isn't everything sinking down there? The city is sinking, the levees are sinking, etc.....

Messick said...

Anonymous at 2:20 PM,

Yes, we get it.

And we know the song.

Anonymous said...

@2:08, great insights, thanks for sharing the Racist Rankin thoughts on this.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the Superdome will not sink before Sunday night's Rolling Stones' concert.

Anonymous said...

"Dr. Van Heerden? Remember him? He tried to tell the truth about the levees..."

Damn KF, didn't know that you were the expert on levees and could determine who was telling the truth (who was accurate in their engineering analysis) and who was not.

What makes you so sure that your LSU prof was "telling the truth" while the rest of the world knew nothing about levees?

Sliding Goo said...

Subsidence is real. As Mississippi's former National Geodetic Service State Advisor (PHD from LSU)once told me, "Imagine someone standing at the end of a diving board, and note the deflection in the board; now imagine the free end of the board is over south Louisiana and the other fixed end is in Memphis." So it affects us in Central Mississippi as well, but not to the same degree as south Louisiana.

If you're still not convinced, note that WHAM sound the front end of your car makes when you come to a bridge on I-10 doing 60-70 mph. The piling supporting the bridges are driven into a layer of load bearing sand and the bridges aren't sinking near as much as the roadway and the roadway approaches leading up to them.

Anonymous said...

So is the new GOP position that the earth is sinking instead of conceding rising ocean levels due to increasing temperatures?

Anonymous said...

Government engineers are just the ones that were too stupid to make the cut in the private sector. MDOT, army corps, it doesn’t matter. They’re the bottom of the barrel that weren’t wanted by a private firm.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:48 PM
That is exactly what I'm saying. The warming of the earth will make coastal & low lying areas make this a mute point.

Anonymous said...

the erosion and the sinking of the Louisiana marshlands is the biggest environmental disaster going on in this country today. every school kid can tell you about 'saving the rainforests' but nobody is concerned about coastal louisiana. 90% of everything that swims in the gulf of mexico is spawned in the louisiana marsh. when the marsh is gone , and that won't be much longer, the entire ecosystem of the gulf will collapse. and we will still be worried about 'saving the rainforests'.

Cynical Sam said...

Screw the rainforests. We have to feed those "starving" dogs that the ASPCA parades on TV to pander for money (to fund fat salaries/perks).

Anonymous said...

Open the floodgates, saving New Orleans is more important than Missippi.

Anonymous said...

Glad they were so worried with taking those statues down a few years ago...

Anonymous said...

A good use of those statues would be to crush them and use it as fill for capping the leeves. All they been using is trash anyway.

Anonymous said...

MS River levees protect the city of new orleans to 20'. They have been near the top for months at 17ish feet. With this storm predicted to dump a lot of rain fall and have a pretty decent tidal surge the current projected river stage on 7-12 is 19'. With tha saturated levee, this could get interesting.

Anonymous said...

NOLA needs a good douche every few years.

Anonymous said...

9:04, the revised forecast has a crest of 20 feet. NOLA is a bout to get a bath.

Anonymous said...

10:44 for the win. Of sorts.

Anonymous said...

so - is NOLA set for evacuation?

Anonymous said...

4:14 - You will know when you see the yellow buses lined up at the gas station.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance is alive and well!

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