First, flood walls that won't hold back floodwater. Now, pumps that don't pump.
After the USACOE admitted responsibility for what's been assessed as "the largest civil engineering disaster in the history of the United States", one might think they'd want to show that they can actually do something right.
Rather than using a tried, robust, reliable design for pumps they were installing on drainage canals, they used an untried design. And kept installing more of these pumps after they knew the things didn't actually work.
Oh, and one more detail: The defective pumps are made by a company with connections to the Bush family and previous allegations of fraud committed with taxpayer money.
" Citing internal documents, The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Corps installed the 34 pumps last year in a rush to fix the city's flood defenses, despite warnings from one of its experts that the machinery was defective and likely to fail in a storm." [...] "The Corps and the politically connected manufacturer of the equipment, Moving Water Industries Corp. of Deerfield Beach, Florida, are still struggling to get the 34 pumps, designed and built under a $26.6 million (€20.18 million) contract, working properly."AP article
"Politically connected" as in another BushCo boondoggle, in this case via brother Jeb.
"MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
"MWI has run into trouble before. The U.S. Justice Department sued the company in 2002, accusing it of fraudulently helping Nigeria obtain $74 million in taxpayer-backed loans for overpriced and unnecessary water-pump equipment. The case has yet to be resolved." AP
On the issue of any actual engineering challenges presented by the project, the line by the Corpse Engineer about having "to build something that nobody has ever built before" is utter bunk.
Not only has something comparable been built before, an excellent example was built right in New Orleans.
Years before the levees were Federalized in the late 1920s, back when the Metairie and Gentilly ridges marked the far back of town, A. Baldwin Wood invented the Wood Screw Pump.
"While the Wood Screw Pump surpasses in efficiency, under normal conditions, those of previous installations, the superiority is much greater just when the greatest service is required. Emergency service is probably the weak point of the old pumps. It is the forte of the new... results show that the pumps easily answered all requirements and that they are the largest and most efficient low lift pumps in the world."
Wood Screw Pumps not only continued to be built and used by the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, they've been adapted around the world, including by the Netherlands, where they seem to know a thing or two about engineering flood control. The design is so robust that some Pumps up to 90 years old that sat in Katrina muck for weeks were able to be restarted (which is why the dewatering of the city took about 1/3rd of the time the Corps originally estimated).
There is a tried and true design readily availible. If you have something bettter, great. If you're not sure, build according to what is known to work.
Or was there some other consideration related to who would get the contract...?
Anyone interested in such things is directed to the excellent local watchdog blog, if you don't read it already:
Fix the Pumps