BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Drainage issues are a hot topic for residents in East Baton Rouge Parish. There’s growing concern about drainage systems being prepared for a storm in the Gulf that could affect much of south Louisiana.
Rodney Mallet, communications director for the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), says crews are working hard to get the pumps ready.
“We have seven pumps throughout the area. They're stationed so they can help us keep the road clear,” said Mallet.
Mallet invited a WAFB crew into the pump station near the Acadian underpass, which is a common problem area for flooding.
“It’s a very low point, as most people from this area know. When the water drains, it goes to the low point into the drains and to our stations," he said.
Mallet says small pumps can move about 1,500 gallons of water per minute; the larger pumps can drain approximately 9,000 gallons of water. However, there’s one problem DOTD officials say causes the pumps to stop working effectively.
“If we get enough litter, it will literally cake across that screen, and then the water will not even get to the pumps,” said Marcus Smith, equipment superintendent for DOTD. He says one of the biggest reasons for failed pumps during heavy rain events is trash and debris blocking water flow.
“We’ll send men down there and stuff, and they just got to do it the old-fashioned way with a shovel and bags, take ropes and stuff and we get debris out there. If it’s stopped up during a rainstorm, we can’t get to it at all,” Smith said.
Mallet says he believes their efforts will prepare the department and the city for what’s to come.
“We have to make sure that the screens are clean and the pumps are ready to roll. We’ve done that. They do come on automatically, but they have an alarm, so if something goes awry, they can reach our guys to come in and turn them on manually,” said Mallet.
DOTD has put in a bid to rebuild station pumps to make them stronger and drain more water.