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Permanent Canal Closures and Pumps Project

One of the largest drainage pumping systems in the world

  • $730M

    Construction Value

  • New Orleans, Louisana

    New Orleans, Louisana

Improving the resiliency for the City of New Orleans and surrounding communities

When a city like New Orleans faces a risk the size of a Category 5 hurricane, the solution needs to be just as formidable. Enter the $730,000,000 Permanent Canal Closures and Pumps (PCCP) design-build project where Stantec served as the lead designer and architect. PCCP, the second largest drainage pumping system in the world, was the last major piece of the $14.6 billion post-Katrina hurricane and storm damage risk reduction system.

Three massive pump station and flood gate facilities stand at the end of the city’s key outfall drainage canals at Lake Pontchartrain. During a major storm event, the 18-foot (5.5-metre) high flood gates will lower to prevent lake surge from entering the canals (as happened with Katrina). At the same time, the pumps will be activated to remove water from the canals into the lake. Stantec developed models using HEC-RAS, RiverFlow 2D, and ANSYS Fluent3D CFD software to perform risk-based hydrologic and hydraulic studies.

The pumps are driven by large diesel generators and have a combined capacity of up to 24,300 cubic feet (688 cubic metres) per second. They will operate continuously and independently during hurricane and major rainfall events. At peak capacity, the pumps can drain enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in four seconds.

At a Glance

  • USACE - New Orleans District
ACEC British Columbia, Award of Excellence, 2018

Design for the 22nd Century

Drone flyover of Permanent Canal Closures and Pumps Project – 17th Street Canal.

A Resilient Future for an American Icon

The City of New Orleans has a complex relationship with water. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated just how vulnerable it is to big storms. Learn from Dan Grandal how we’re helping it prepare for a more resilient future.

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New Orleans is a very vulnerable City. Tt's got the Gulf on one side the. The Mississippi runs through it and you have Lake Pontchartrain, one of the largest lakes in the u.s., right behind it. New Orleans has a history of flooding and every time they've come back they built a safer stronger system. This project is huge. It's one of the largest of its kind in the world.  It's currently a 615 million dollar budget to build three separate sites at the at the end of each of the drainage canals to Lake Pontchartrain. Stantec performed geotech, structural, electrical, mechanical, design, civil, hydraulics. We were basically taking care of the entire project. There were over 450 staff from 55 different offices that converged on this project. Now as far as the pump station itself we have built a lot of resiliency and redundant design into the systems. The generator facilities that we have to these stations basically gives you enough power to power a small city so in case the whole city gets flooded this pump station will still be operation. It will be able to evacuate the water quicker and help New Orleans bounce back quicker. The most rewarding part of the project is helping out the community. I went to Tulane University and lived in New Orleans for four years in the 90s and really got a connection to the community, the music, the food. New Orleans has a certain draw to it that really pulls you in. More than professionally working on a project just being able to help out and you know when I tell people what I do there like a lot of times they just like thank you for coming and helping us. 

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We helped prepare New Orleans for a 1:100 year storm
Cubic Feet Per Second Combined Pumping Capacity
Miles of Piles
Seconds to Fill

Behind the enormous capacity of the three stations is a flexible design that features tall flood gates, powerful pumps, and a few dozen generators.
Many piles needed to be driven into the ground for this project. When you place all the piles end to end, the length is measured at 48 miles (77 km).
The three pump stations combined have the capacity to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in less than four seconds.

Large Model Tests Flood Control Design

Stantec's custom designed physical model allowed engineers to test design assumptions for the PCCP.

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The project we’re working on today is the Permanent Canal Closures and Pumping project, and the project is designed to the be final capstone piece in the improvements to the hurricane risk reduction system that have all been implemented after hurricane Katrina in 2005.

We’ve built some 1:16 physical scale models and we’re testing their hydraulics. We’ve done lots of computer modeling, and now the proof is in the pudding. We’re testing these models because there’s some things we just can’t see with a computer, we need to actually build a model and test it.

We started at the lake, so we’re modelling the entire outfall canal so 3 miles back from Lake Pontchartrain. We’re also modelling the very detailed fluids in and around the pump station and we’re modeling the piping system as well for pressures and flows.

We came up with an innovative plan of combining computer and physical models. We were able to tie our simplest models to our most complex model, the ones that we’re running today – the physical models. We’re able to share modeling boundaries, share data, and have each layer of our model, it’s like an onion, each layer is reflecting and building on the other layers of the onion. And so we were able to bring that together in a cost effective manner that gives us all the information we want, and really put our client at ease that we were going to study this with the level of detail that was required.

The goals of this project are twofold. The first is to pump water from the interior of the city – the city is surrounded by levies, which effectively forms a bowl, and this pump station will evacuate the rainwater that falls during a hurricane event, or just during a large rainstorm event. And the second objective of the project is to form the final barrier at these three outfall canals. It’s an opening that was present during Katrina and this project will close up those locations.

Stantec’s role is lead design consultant, and so across seven different task forces from geotechnical to mechanical to civil, structural, and architecture, we’re coordinating the design of the entire project. We’re also working closely on constructability issues and cost issues with the contractor and ultimately on project delivery and construction for the next three years.

Our primary client is the PCCP JV. That joint venture works for the Army Corps, and the Army Corps is working for the community. 

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