New Orleans – Today, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) announced the start of construction for Phase 2 of the Water Hammer Hazard Mitigation Program. SWBNO, with financial support from FEMA, launched this program to better protect our drinking water system from power losses and pressure drops; a risk-reduction strategy that will also greatly reduce the frequency of water main breaks and the need to issue precautionary boil-water advisories.
Phase 2, an approximately $35 million project, includes a complete rehabilitation and upgrade of the Claiborne Avenue Pump Station, which houses four of eight water distribution pumps for the East Bank of New Orleans. The water pumps will be fitted with new motors that can operate at variable speeds – an upgrade that will allow them to adjust the rate of water flow to offset any pressure changes in the city’s network. This work will greatly reduce the risk of damage from water hammer impacts, which are surges of water pressure, sometimes caused by power loss at a water plant.
Due to the pump station’s proximity to Claiborne Avenue, the valves and meters for the station must be installed in the existing right-of-way of the highway. Starting Thursday, May 14, 2020, (pending weather) the eastbound lanes of Claiborne Avenue will be reduced to two lanes and re-routed onto a temporary roadway built on the neutral ground. Drivers are encouraged to heed all traffic directives, which will remain in place for the duration of this vital project.
The estimated project completion date is July 2022.
Phase 1 of the program included two new 200-foot water tanks that can hold approximately two million gallons of water each. In the event of a power loss to the water pumps, the towers can provide uninterrupted water pressure for approximately 40 minutes. This provides welcomed extra time to transfer the pumps to another power source and not interrupt water service to the city. The towers, which became operational in 2018 and 2019, have already prevented on several occasions the need to declare boil-water advisories.
The third and final phase of the project, which will include improvements to the Panola Pumping Station and High Lift Pumping Station, will go out for bid upon completion of Phase 2.
The cost of the water hammer project is being reimbursed through FEMA’s hazard mitigation program.
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