Fish or foul: Was the 17th Street Canal seepage a red herring? or the canary in the coal mine?


This map is created by Dr. Ezra Boyd. Click to enlarge

With hurricane season upon us and already a second named storm, residents in New Orleans are asking about the condition of their protective hurricane levees. This is especially true for residents whose yards back up to levees.

After all, it is household knowledge in the Big Easy that just prior to Hurricane Katrina’s arrival in 2005, residents living next to the 17th Street Canal (the city’s most important outfall canal) had reported water pooling in their yards. Records show that the city tested the water six months prior to Katrina and determined the seepage was coming from the canal.

However, the Army Corps of Engineers – the federal agency responsible for the canal’s floodwall – was never alerted. And tragically, the canal wall failed during Katrina flooding the portion of the city with the most people and property.

In light of this, one might assume that better maintenance inspections and better reporting of problems by the Orleans Levee District (OLD) would have resulted in the seepage being brought to the attention of the corps which would have acted on the information. Was the seepage was a red herring or the canary in the coal mine?

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H.J. Bosworth Jr is featured prominently in FOX 8 story

Lead researcher and senior member of – H.J. Bosworth, Jr – weighs in on WDSU TV’s annual report on the state of New Orleans’ levees.

FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

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ENR Corrects Erroneous Lede Describing Corps’ Levee Failure

West breach of London Avenue Canal with clubhouse 9-7-05

UPDATED May 20, 2016 at 10:35 a.m. ENR has posted an acknowledgement to its story that an error in a earlier version of the story had been corrected

ENR Engineering News-Record recently posted a story about the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers’ levees during Katrina.

But it began with a false statement.

The opening line communicated that Katrina’s storm surge was greater than what the 17th Street and London Avenue canal walls were designed for.

This is false.

According to the Army Corps’ own study (Volume 1, USACE IPET, 40-41), the failure of the canal walls was a failure of the corps to do its job.

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