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The Final Nail in the Corps Of Engineers' Coffin

(Note: I'm leaving this at the top for about 3 hours. Scroll down to see more Wizbang content.)

For those of you following the saga of the Corps of Engineers flooding New Orleans, the game all but ended this morning. There is still a little time left on the clock but Don Meredith is already singing "Turn Out the Lights, The Party's Over."

If you've missed a few episodes, here's a catch-up. The Corps came out with their own report last week (a Friday document dump) on why the floodwalls failed. It said the floodwalls failed because of an "unforeseeable combination of events." (Then it listed that series of events)

In other words, "Don't blame us, there was no way for anyone to know the walls would fail, nobody could have predicted this."

That whole "unforeseeable combination of events" line would be more believable if the Corps of engineers had not -themselves- tested the floodwalls and had them fail 20 years ago in the exact same manner they claimed last week was "unforeseeable."

That's right. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers KNEW 20 years ago the design was faulty and they used it anyway. Then they lied (cough again cough) to cover it up.

Floodwall failure was foreseen, team says


Corps' own 1986 study showed collapse possible, scientists say

By Bob Marshall

Findings by an Army Corps of Engineers-sponsored panel that the collapse of the 17th Street Canal floodwall during Hurricane Katrina was the result of an "unforeseeable" combination of events are contradicted by a 1986 research project done by the corps itself, National Science Foundation investigators said Monday.

The Inter-agency Performance Evaluation Task Force, working for the corps to investigate the levee breaches, said in its second interim report Friday that the 17th Street failure was caused by rising water in the canal that forced the floodwall to flex away from the canal, causing a separation between the wall and the levee inside the canal. Water pressure building inside the opening then exerted force on a weak layer of soil under the wall and the land-side toe of the levee, causing the layer to slip and bringing the levee down and the wall with it. [That will be important later. -ED]

Spokesmen for the 50-member task force, composed of researchers from academia, industry, and state and federal agencies, as well as the corps, said a review of engineering literature revealed this specific "failure mechanism" had not been noted before the design and construction of the project from the late 1980s until 1994.

But in a sharply worded response issued Monday, two University of California-Berkeley professors leading a 34-member National Science Foundation investigation into the levee failures said the 1986 corps research make those claims "unfortunate" and "inaccurate."

Ray Seed and Bob Bea said the 20-year-old test, which included constructing floodwalls on existing levees and raising water levels to determine what pressures the walls could withstand, resulted in the same kind of collapse that toppled the 17th Street structures and flooded much of the city.

"In simple terms this was exactly the 'unforeseen' mode of failure" reported by the task force, the statement said.

A spokesman for the corps' New Orleans District said the task force would be reviewing the National Science Foundation statements and might have comments later. Calls to task force directors were not immediately returned.

The 1986 corps test, done in the Atchafalaya Basin on soils purposely meant to simulate those in the New Orleans area, resulted in a series of events that closely mirrors those that occurred on the 17th Street Canal during Katrina, the science foundation statement said. As water levels rose against floodwalls built for the test, a "dramatic increase" in deflections of the sheet piles occurred, followed by a "gap developing between the sheet piles and the soils, allowing water to flow between the sheet piles and the soils, exerting additional hydrostatic pressures on the piles," the foundation engineers said.

Sound familiar? That's the exact same way they said the floodwalls failed during Katrina but claimed was "unforeseeable ." They knew before they built the floodwalls around New Orleans their design was flawed but used it anyway. Then they never mention this test in their own report. -- This is why I say the Corps CAN NOT be trusted to investigate itself. -- They have a long history of lying to the public. I've documented it here repeatedly.

Just when you think it can't get worse for the Corps, it does.

Here are 2 paragraphs from a story that ran last night on the TP website:

The lack of action after the 1985 test apparently "comes down to an internal schism within the Corps," Seed said. "The researchers doing the work were from the Waterways Experiment Station -- a think tank within the Corps where experimental research was done.


"Sometimes there's separation between the engineers in the research center and the working Joes in some of the districts. It wasn't all that surprising. It was just disappointing," he said.

It was just a disappointing lack of communication. Yet another Corps lie. That's contradicted by this morning's story. (returning to the main story now)

The results of those experiments were widely circulated among corps officials, the foundation engineers said. Further, the researchers involved in the test alerted the New Orleans District, which was overseeing the design of the area's hurricane floodwalls, that its study suggested the need to find new methods to "analyze both the soils supporting the sheet piling and concrete floodwalls, and the sheet pile/floodwalls themselves," the foundation statement said.

They were even alerted to the problem and they ignored their own testing department. This wasn't a "disappointing" lack of communication. This was malfeasance.

1200+ People dead. 300,000+ People homeless. $300+ Billion worth of property damage. All avoidable. Think about it.


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Comments (37)

Why isn't this a suprise? ... (Below threshold)
lakestate:

Why isn't this a suprise? When have the Army Corp of Engineers been right about anything? It's just another in a long line of ACE blunders. Remember the floods in the '90s, or the hurricanes in NC and Florida? Another government bureaucracy made bigger by the 9/11 Commission. So what's Congress' answer?... blame Bush and make it a larger bureaucracy.

Before you draw your conclu... (Below threshold)
10ksnooker:

Before you draw your conclusion, consider that it may not have been possible to do a "better design" and that the limits of what could be done had been reached. Building a levee on a silting plain is not wise, no matter how deep you dig or how tall you build. You will likely run out of money before you solve the problem.

Sometimes it's best to just move to higher ground, which it appears most of the citizens of New Orleans have decided to do.

Watch out, 10ksnooker, Paul... (Below threshold)
Laura:

Watch out, 10ksnooker, Paul will rip you a new one. Don't ever, EVER, question what he writes about Katrina and the resulting floods in New Orleans.

Certainly the Corps has pro... (Below threshold)
ts:

Certainly the Corps has provided more than enough ammunition for everyone to take shots at them in the wake of Katrina, but one element that seems to be absent from the discussion is the political component to these projects. A legitimate question to ask is, "Was the design the best possible given the project budget, both in time and money?" In my studies I came across a research paper on public leadership during periods of crisis. One of the public's expetations the authors dispel is that "Leaders should put public safety first." Their research finding was that "Leaders consider the economic and political costs of regulating and enforcing maximum safety too expensive. The settle for, and pay for, sub-optimal levels of safety." Despite the misinformation and disinformation they have clearly been putting out in the aftermath, the question remains unanswered. Did the Corps have all the resources necessary to build better levees than were built?

10Ksnooker and Laura<... (Below threshold)
TJIT:

10Ksnooker and Laura

If the COE could not build it to standards they should have said so, end of story, no questions asked.

In the private business world if you contract to build a structure of a certain rating and certify the structure meets the rating standard when you know it does not you have committed fraud. If you do it in the private world you are likely to end up 1. Sued into poverty 2. In prison for fraud.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the location of the levees and everything to do with malfeasance and engineering malpractice.

If no better design was pos... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

If no better design was possible, then they shouldn't have allowed Cat-3 protection to be touted for the levee system.

10ksnooker>Before ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

10ksnooker

>Before you draw your conclusion, consider that it may not have been possible to do a "better design" and that the limits of what could be done had been reached.

Ever hear of a "T" wall vs an "I" wall? We had better technology and they did not use. Further saying "Well the task was really really hard" is not an acceptable expalination of engineering failure.

==========

No Laura, I only rip new one of dumbasses who say things that are demonstrably unturue then refuse to accept reality.

Since days after the storm, I've been miles ahead of the media expalining what happened in New Orleans. (search the archives) For MONTHS I've had dumbasses in the comments tell me I was wrong.

Guess what? Everything I've said for over 6 months has repeatedly been proven correct. I'm really sorry if that annoys you but dumbasses who aren't engineers and live 1000 miles away telling me that I have it wrong piss me off.

NOW- If you know more about the subject than I do then by all means share your knowledge. If not, STFU.

Thanks

ts you get your own reply:<... (Below threshold)
Paul:

ts you get your own reply:

"Was the design the best possible given the project budget, both in time and money?" ... "Did the Corps have all the resources necessary to build better levees than were built?"

I've been working on this post for almost a week. It is amazing.

As bizzare as it sounds (even to a Corps critic like myself) Congress aurthorized what should have been cat 5 levee protection and the Corps decided to only build cat 3.

That is somewhat of an overstatement but not really.

I'll make the post in the next day or 2 but in as few words as possible, Congress told the Corps to build a hurricane protection system to protect agaisnt the maximum weather contidiotons that had a "reasonable" chance of occuring.

The Corps (stop me if this sounds familiar) ignored mountians of weather data availible to them in the 80's and 90's and used data from 1959 instead.

Using the wrong data, they decided that the biggest hurricane that could reasonably expected to hit New Orelans had 100mph winds. -- We now know that hurricanes get much larger than that but the Corps was oblivious. -- More coming, I promise.

But to answer your quesitons:

"Was the design the best possible given the project budget, both in time and money?"

NO

"Did the Corps have all the resources necessary to build better levees than were built?"

Yes.

Paul,What is the b... (Below threshold)
Scotty:

Paul,

What is the best realistic solution for New Orleans going forward? Its an honest question. It seems no matter what engineering solution is applied, Nature always seems to find the weakest link. Maybe better levees is not an adequate approach. What say you?

Engineers need to understan... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Engineers need to understand what went wrong in order to improve the levee design, but it seems this information is coming late. The rebuilding process is well underway with a predicted completion date of June, although they don't say what year. I fear we're just setting up the house of cards to be knocked down again by the next hurricane with New Orleans on it's target list.

We have to assume a cat 5 will target New Orleans at some point, so the question is. Can a levee system capable of withstanding a cat 5 hurricane be constructed in New Orleans? Next, is building such a levee system more cost effective than other solutions? If the answer to either is NO, then rebuilding the city as we know it may not be the wise thing to do.

One thing to considers is that the main channel of the Mississippi has been trying change course for over a 50 years and that the only thing preventing that course change is a control structure built and maintained by the ACE. Just as the levees failed when mother nature put them to the test, the same thing could happen to the control structure with the next major flood of the Mississippi river. Without the control structure the port of New Orleans will be out of business, maybe for good.

What is the best realist... (Below threshold)
Paul:

What is the best realistic solution for New Orleans going forward? Its an honest question. It seems no matter what engineering solution is applied, Nature always seems to find the weakest link.

That's a good question Scotty. One I've had in my brain for months. To answer it, I have to go backwards in time a bit...

Nature DOES find the weakest link... But in this case -conrtary to popular belief- Nature is on New Orleans' side. I'll explain.

Look at any good map of the area and you will see that Louisiana has a delta that has grown for thousands of years from the Mississippi river. (The whole area under that big lake is all delta.)

Nature -left alone- will build more land below us.

What has happened is that in an effort to move goods (thru the port) and oil to the rest of the nation, we have messed with mother nature and screwed things up.

The delta is now shrinking when it should be growing. A shrinking delta is (duh) bad news for New Orleans.

Short term, we need a REAL honest appraisal of the levee system and we need it built to truly reasonable levels. This is not as expensive nor as challenging as many say it is. They are many speciifics (like closing the 17th street canal) that I'll skip, but suffice it to say the engineering challenge is not that hard.

Long term is different. We need to reverse the loss of the delta and use the Mississippi river to grow land below us. Again this is cheap in relitive terms.

There is at least a 10 to 1 cost benifit ratio here.

We have an abundance of silt coming down the river every day of our lives. We couldn't stop it if we wanted to. Use that (as nature would) to protect the city.

That's the good news. The bad news is that guess who would be in charge of these projects? The same idiots who flooded us.

The "New Orelans should move" crowd would get a much more sympathetic ear from me if they would say "New Orlenas should move because the Corps screwed the whole thing up and looks like they'll never be capable of fixing it."

Again- The engineering challenges are NOT that hard. The Netherlands figured it out. *Mostly* levees are big mounds of mud. It really does not take much to make taller and wider mounds of mud.

(The Corps should probably skip anything more advanced. Just give us 20 feet of good old fashioned mud and we'd proably be better off.)

Well, whatever the problem ... (Below threshold)

Well, whatever the problem is, we've got to hurry the hell up and make a better levee system because there is a good chance that hurricanes will strike again this year. The cycle for increased hurricane activity is going to last at least 5 more years if not 10, according to pretty much every scientist out there. What will happen if a new hurricane strikes New Orleans this fall?

Paul, I have to say that I ... (Below threshold)
Asmodeus Mictian:

Paul, I have to say that I appreciate your candor and style. Mind you, this *is* the first article that I've read on your blog, but with what I've read so far, I'm going to continue browsing around and see what I find. As for "Laura", we're all sorry that Yahoo had shut down its chat rooms, but I do believe it's time for you to go back to school and do your homework now instead of just firing one-liners trying to make yourself look intelligent.

Keep up the good work, and never let anyone tell you that you can't say something!

Nature DOES find t... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Nature DOES find the weakest link... But in this case -conrtary to popular belief- Nature is on New Orleans' side. I'll explain.

Not only contrary to popular belief, but expert belief as well. New Orleans is sinking about a meter per century while sea levels are rising even faster?

Nature -left alone- will build more land below us.

The same man-made structures that keep the silt from coming down the river keep the river from changing course and empting into the gulf about 100 miles to the west of New Orleans.

Silt is not a good material for levees. When it's dried out the rich organic matter in it oxidizes and shrinks. If you keep it wet it has no structural strength. There is plenty of good plasticine clay up river that should be used for the levees.

Tax payers just want their money to be spent wisely. If the plan is to re-build New Orleans, then lets do it right rather than just set up the next disaster scenario.

Mac your "expert" and I are... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Mac your "expert" and I are basically saying the same thing. The only difference is that I'm saying noting the obvious... that the delta would be growing if left alone.

As your first link above stated..."writer Mark Twain observed, if this process continued unaltered the delta of the Mississippi would extend like a fishing pole from Louisiana to the Yucatan Peninsula."

Most people think if nature is left to run its course New Orleans gets swept into the sea. The oppisite is true.

As you yourself have noted, it is the manipulation of the coast (& river) by man that has things screwed up.

The United States gets 1/3rd of its domestic oil from Louisiana. Protecting the area is a given. -- Even forgetting federal responsibility for thier negligence, it is cheap, relative to benifit, to restore the wetlands.

You, as a tax payer, shouldn't be worried NEAR so much about what it costs as you are about whether the corps has the institutional ability to do it correctly.

If it costs 10 Billion and it is done wrong, the country wastes 10 billion. (plus the cost of the next hurricane) If it costs 30 billion and we could have gotten by with only 20 we still waste 10 billion. Assuming the later project works, it's a WHOLE lot cheaper.

As Zig Ziglar says. "If you spend too much on quality, you waste a little money. If you spent too little, you waste it all." Pot and pans or levees... The same rule applies.

Paul,I think where... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Paul,

I think where the experts I cited disagree with you is on what it will take to make New Orleans safe from hurricanes. Professor Van Heerden thinks that to make New Orleans safe to withstand a Category Five hurricane, a vast barrier system stretching from Mississippi all the way to Texas will be needed. One that could take 20 years to build.

As you cited, the port of New Orleans is important, but if the control structure fails due to a massive flood on the Mississippi, the port will be out of business for years if not for good. It's the same folks who screwed up the levees that built and maintain the control structure, so that should at least raise some concerns.

Bottom line, I agree with you that it's better to spend more money and do the job right than to try to get by on the cheap. However, it looks like the die is already case for the cheap stop-gap solution. From what I have read the ACE is rebuilding the levees to be as strong (weak) as they were before. If that effort is just the first step, then ok, but I fear it's the full extent of the job.

Paul,What are your... (Below threshold)

Paul,

What are your qualifications in civil engineering? No offense, but some of what you are saying isn't making sense to me.

Mac, I never said "The Grea... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Mac, I never said "The Great Wall of Louisiana" was not needed. In fact, my reply to Scotty said I was skipping the discussion of each element. I don't think you will find anyone that disagrees with that fact it is a two stage problem.

Stage one is to provide some level of protection this year (and the next 2 or 3) but that the long term solution (I think everyone of any knowledge) agrees involves coastal restoration.

Your last paragraph I think is the heart of your "problem." Everyone knows that what the Corps is doing before June 1 is an overgrown patch. That is not the end of the project by any streach.

Congress approved that money in days. Then they approved enough money to REALLY make them cat 3 levees. (phase 1.5 if you will)

Congress is still figurng out phase 2. Part of the reason they have not funded it is that nobody today has a plan to do it yet... We're too busy working on the June 1 band-aid.

I still don't think you've found anyone who "disagrees" with anything I've said.

------------

Jeff what doesn't make sense to you? These really are simple concepts.

In somewhat related news, w... (Below threshold)
mantis:

In somewhat related news, why would people live near a dam that could burst?

geeze mantis, I'm glad YOU ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

geeze mantis, I'm glad YOU said that. ;-)

Of course less than 1% of the people will get that living in New Orleans is no worse than living behind a dam but whatever...

Paul,I'm hoping Co... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Paul,

I'm hoping Congress is willing to spend the money to do the job right. With so much federal money flowing into the area the public needs lots of independent citizens like yourself keeping a watchful eye on the ACE. I expect that only with such vigilance will taxpayers get what we are paying for, a city safe from such flooding for decades to come.

That said, nature may have other plans and we may need to rethink our whole approach to cities like New Orleans.

Paul -How is it th... (Below threshold)
ts:

Paul -

How is it that you can offer yes/no answers with no substantiation? You say that the Corps had the resources to build necessary levee protection, yet offer no proof that Congress appropriated, not just authorized the money needed for Cat 5 protection. Have you bothered to read any of the GAO reports that date back to the mid-70's documenting how underfunded the levee construction projects were? This original project was estimated to cost $85 million in 1965, but has never been fully funded, and by early last year was estimated with a cost to completion of nearly $740 million and a completion date of 2015, 50 years after it was first authorized. Here's a little gem for you, by the early '80s the total project estimate was $747 million, and total funding available for the project up to that point was $171 million. Yet you claim the Corps had the resources to build Cat 5 protection? Based on what?

This is not intended to be a defense of the Corps, but in everyone's fervor to throw someone under the bus, they have become a convenient target while questions about the lack of funding support for more than 40 years aren't asked. This has been a disaster in progress for half a century, and there is blame to be spread far beyond the Corps.

Ts, bizarrely asked:<... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Ts, bizarrely asked:

>How is it that you can offer yes/no answers with no substantiation?

HUH? I said about 3 times I had been working on that post for a week and would post the full explaination. Then I gave you a brief explaination.

========
I'll make the post in the next day or 2 but in as few words as possible, Congress told the Corps to build a hurricane protection system to protect agaisnt the maximum weather contidiotons that had a "reasonable" chance of occuring.

The Corps (stop me if this sounds familiar) ignored mountians of weather data availible to them in the 80's and 90's and used data from 1959 instead.

Using the wrong data, they decided that the biggest hurricane that could reasonably expected to hit New Orelans had 100mph winds. -- We now know that hurricanes get much larger than that but the Corps was oblivious. -- More coming, I promise.
========

Did you miss that part of my reply?

I'm more than willing to discuss or even debate this issue but don't be a knucklehead and say I offered "no substantiation" when I gave you a brief explaination and said I'd been working on the full version.

A 20 year old study? What ... (Below threshold)

A 20 year old study? What happened with the floodwalls between then and now? No improvements? They just did the study and left it at that? It seems like we're getting only half the story.

(weird, my reply to TS is o... (Below threshold)
Paul:

(weird, my reply to TS is out of chronological order)

Mac,

I'm hoping Congress is willing to spend the money to do the job right.

See my reply to ts. The story takes a very weird twist. (It looks like) Congress is not to blame for not sending the moeny.... More when I can type it.

With so much federal money flowing into the area the public needs lots of independent citizens like yourself keeping a watchful eye on the ACE. I expect that only with such vigilance will taxpayers get what we are paying for, a city safe from such flooding for decades to come.

Your hammer found the head of the nail on that one Mac. There is not a town on the planet that has a higher degeree of the citizenry demanding accountability than New Orleans does now.

We're pissed and we aren't taking dumbshit political answers this time. (and I'm not talking about myself, I actually stay out of local politics) I'm talking about the thousands of people who will flood a stupid legislator with phone calls in an instant if he screws up.

As best we can tell, corruption is as close to zero as is possible and still have it called goverment. (by that I mean prue theft type stuff that goes on when this type of money flows... kickbacks, bribes etc)

As the main talk radio guy down here put it the other day, "Anyone stealing money right now has to not just be brave they have to be mentally insane. Forget the fact the feds and the local watchdog groups are watching every penny.... If it came out that someone was stealing federal money right now the citizens -not the cops but the citizens- would pull them out their car and rip off thier arms."

It's probably not much of an exaggeration.

Sure there are some brother in law contracts out there -- this is still called earth and not utopia. But the big stuff however is -as far as we can tell- gone. If any is found, you'll know by the look the eyes of the lynch mob.

>A 20 year old study? What ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>A 20 year old study? What happened with the floodwalls between then and now? No improvements? They just did the study and left it at that? It seems like we're getting only half the story.

No Jason... It is exponentially WORSE that that. The study was done in 1985. THe floodwalls were not built until the 90's.

Forget the floodwalls not being improved as a result of the study... They were built wrong. (if you are new to the issue, you might have to read the linked story twice. It is bizzare.)

Notice: For whatever rea... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Notice: For whatever reason the comments are not in the rigth order.

The bottom 2 comments are dated 30 min and 1 hour form now respctivly. weird.

heh- Well said mantis... No... (Below threshold)
Paul:

heh- Well said mantis... Not to mention the population of New Orleans was about 40,000 by the time the storm hit.

AND we have about 1200 people (I think) not accounted for. Not all of them are dead obviosuly but we had a dog team in from Maine last week and they found like 9 of the dead in a week.

It seems a safe guess that about 200 bodies are in the rubble and we never be recovered becasue as the bulldozers come in and load the stuff up, the decomposed bodies will go to the dump.

scrapiron is an idiot.

You are falling for the hyp... (Below threshold)
scrapiron:

You are falling for the hype on the deaths due to Katrina. The numbers used by the former MSM, and now you, assume that no one ever died before Katrina. If you applied the normal death rate prior to the storm you will find there was maybe 2-300 deaths attributed to the storm. The others would have died if the sun had been shining and the pot smokering/pill poppers were leading a normal life. Has common sense has departed everyone with a pencil or computer? Or is it the failed education system that hands out a BS/MS to people who can't perform on the fourth grade level.

Paul -I know you a... (Below threshold)
ts:

Paul -

I know you are working on a longer post, but your posts make it sound like you can't see the forest because of the trees. You are complaining that the Corps underdesigned the levees - rather obvious given the events of last year. Yet you claim they had the resources to build adequate levees despite mountains of information that supports the argument that the flood protection project was never sufficiently funded to build the appropriate protection from the time the project was first authorized in 1965. And stop using Congressional authorization as the justification for anything. An authorization bill doesn't have any money attached to it, only appropriations bills allocate money. That's one of the oldest games in DC, with Congress authorizing more than they appropriate, and then Representatives and Senators strong arming the agencies to reprogram funds to pet projects that were in authorization bills but not fully funded in appropriations.

Even the WaPo blew threw the flag on the LA congressional delegation for this, documenting that LA has had more spending by the Corps than any other state in the last few years, but that hundreds of millions went to projects of questionable value from an engineering standpoint. The driving force behind those projects was pressure by members of the delegation to bring money into their respective districts, not what was in the best interest of the state as a whole.

scrapiron, Are you... (Below threshold)
mantis:

scrapiron,

Are you seriously trying to tell us that 1000 people die in New Orleans every week? Wow, that morgue must be hoppin!

If New Orleanians died at the average U.S. rate of 8.25/1000 each year, then that would mean NO has about 4000 deaths per year and about 37,000 for Louisiana as a whole. Now that's about 77 deaths per week for New Orleans. Even if we assume that all of the people who normally would have died anyway from whatever causes stayed in the area, that still leaves at least 900 people dead from NO. Back to fourth grade math with you.

>Yet you claim they had the... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>Yet you claim they had the resources to build adequate levees despite mountains of information that supports the argument that the flood protection project was never sufficiently funded to build the appropriate protection from the time the project was first authorized in 1965.

ts, please....

Congress did not authorize ANY projects in the year of 1965.

If you knew half what you claim, you would know what the DID authorize in 65.

Now... Do your homework, wait for my post or quit whining. Pick one.

Here's a hint ts:Y... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Here's a hint ts:

You are CORRECT when you say the money for the building of "cat 5" levees was never appropriated by congress. That's because the corps never even asked for it because they were using bad data. (when better data had been given to them and the ignored it like they ignored this test.)

See my answer above that I've already clipped for you once.

(Unless more facts become known that change things...) The Corps ain't going to be able to hide behind Congress. I know they have been saying that since the storm. It's another Corps lie. (and perhaps their biggest)

Now just wait for my dang post wouldaya? ;-)

Quick question for those wh... (Below threshold)
Cybrludite:

Quick question for those who say that New Orleans should be abandoned for higher ground. Same question I pose each time this comes up, actually. Where do you want to move the port? Topeka, perhaps? You think we're down here because we enjoy the combination of temperature & humidity both in the high nineties and have a fondness for mosquitoes? The city was founded here because it was the shortest portage between the River & the Lake, and remains here because we're about as far up-river as is cost effective to bring most ocean-going vessels (Generally an 8 hour trip from Pilottown to New Orleans) and about as far down-river as is practical to build high-rises. On top of the 1/3 of domestic oil supplies, consider that it's massively cheaper to barge midwestern grain here than it would be to send it by rail to alternate ports. Without New Orleans, the nation's economy tanks. That's why all the effort with keeping the River from shifting over to Morgan City. How long after the shift would it be before channels and port facilities would be built up and functional? And what would happen to our nation's economy in the meantime?

Here is a good starting poi... (Below threshold)

Here is a good starting point to not making any sense:

"Nature -left alone- will build more land below us."

No it won't. River deltas don't work that way, especially deltas sitting underneath tons of city. Deltas rebuild themselves by silting up channels and forming new ones. Sediment is deposited on top of certain areas and removed from other areas through erosion. Except we aren't letting any of this happen because we have a city sitting there.

The problem of New Orleans is that you have the city sitting on the ground and a desire to keep the delta in the same damn place. Sediment is never going to get deposited, because it would have to go on top of the city and people will just remove it (probably via the ACE). Sediment won't be removed from places where people want it because ACE will just put it back.

The catch is that soil can still be eroded from beneath the city via ground water. The pressure of the city on top of the soil will probably enhance this erosion by pushing soil out. So the city will go down, not up for the foreseeable future. This is why the city has been sinking for years compared to say New York City, which is largely built on bedrock.

Attempts can be made to stabilize the soil underneath the city but they are not cheap in any way, shape, or form. Large city-wide civil engineering projects are never cheap. If there were cheap solutions, then the problems would already have been solved. Instead what we have are "relatively" cheap solutions which could mean damn near anything.

Sigh... There is one in eve... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Sigh... There is one in every crowd....

Jeff, I made the point that if we let nature take its course, the delta would grow. You retorted that I was wrong because the delta can't grow because of the actions of mankind.

I'm glad you cleared that up for everyone.

Next time if you are going to call me wrong, don't paraphrase me in your explanation. It confuses the newbies.

After the famous steamboat ... (Below threshold)
Kelleher, William J.:

After the famous steamboat case the Corps was given jurisdiction to buld dykes and levees on all tidal waters in the US. In the 1890s engineers from the state of New York were highly critical of the Corps of Engineers for building single sheet piled dykes on the Hudson River to maintain navigational channels. By 1915 all dykes built on the Hudson River were double sheet pile dykes. I taught at RPI from 1953 to 1957; the students were well aware of the modes of failure of single sheet piled dykes or levees. At New Orleans the single sheet piled wall caused the entire levee, including the old earthen levee to fail. It was like a gigantic bulldozer being powered by the force of water behind the wall.




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