… would he have allowed a Florida company to give us pumps that one engineer described as defective? Pumps that still aren’t all installed nine months after the original deadline? Pumps that can’t pump water out of the canal as fast as the city’s pumps can pump water in?
I don’t think so. I think if A.B. Wood were still around, 18 months after Katrina, we would be well on our way to having pump stations at the canal closures capable of keeping New Orleans dry.
We’ve heard much about the memo by USACE mechanical Engineer Maria Garzino describing the performance of MWI’s pumps after being tested:
Put simply, if the intent of the contract requirements is to have pump equipment capable of being turned on and used for prolonged periods of time in the event of a hurricane, then I believe the pump equipment will not function as intended. In fact, without extensive follow on supplemental operation of the pumping equipment after installation, and subsequent likely follow on repair of failed pumping equipment components (hydraulic pumps, hydraulic pump motors, failed high pressure hydraulic lines, etc.), I believe significant failure of the pump equipment can be expected.Here’s a memo by Professor W. H. Creighton (pdf), Dean of the Department of Technology at Tulane University, written in 1915 describing the performance of A.B. Wood’s pumps after being tested:
He summed up “that while the 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 answer all requirements and that they are the largest and most efficient low-lift pumps in the world.World Class pumps for a World Class city. Is that too much to ask?
His report showed the pumps to have such remarkable efficiency and revealed features so superior to previous pumps that a complete description was included for the information of other engineers who would have to deal with massive pumping problems.