UPDATE: Army Corps responds to pile driving, flooding concerns

The Army Corps of Engineers responds a week later to my inquiry about questionable (potentially destabilizing) pile driving near the levee during spring flood.

Despite the delay, the reponse is rather thorough and respectful:

Mr. Vogel:

A levee board permit should have been obtained from the Orleans Levee District for performance of any subsurface work, such as soil borings, groundwater monitoring wells and for any type of drillings, pile driving, deep excavations, or foundations within 1500 feet of the Mississippi River Levee centerline.

Performance of all subsurface work within this area is usually restricted when the stage of the Mississippi River is above +11.0 feet on the Carrollton gage, at New Orleans, Louisiana. However, a waiver to perform this work when the river is between +11.0 feet and +15.0 feet NGVD on the Carrollton gage can be requested and will be reviewed on a case by case basis. The applicant should have applied to Orleans Levee District, by letter and include full-size construction plans, cross sections, and details of the proposed work. Concurrently, they must also forward a copy of the letter and plans to the my office in Operations Division and to the Department of Transportation and Development (LA DOTD), District 02, for our review and comments concerning the proposed work. Orleans Levee District will not issue a permit for the proposed work until they have obtained letters of no objection from both reviewing agencies.

Pile driving is complete at this site and will not be a detriment to the levee.

We really appreciate your attention to this matter.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Best wishes,
Sarah McLaughlin

The response, however, raises a number of questions:

1. While Ms. McLaughlin lays out the proper theoretical procedure in full, did the pile driving company or contractor at the site north of the Tchoupitoulas Wal-Mart actually have a waiver (and make all the proper submissions) as required, even if pile driving on that site has since concluded?

"The applicant should have applied to Orleans Levee District, by letter and include full-size construction plans, cross sections, and details of the proposed work."

I plan to contact the Orleans Levee District next.

2. Even if the Orleans Levee District received the proper submission from the contractor, did it send out copies to the DOT and Ms. Mclaughlin?

3. Did the Army Corps. of Engineers purposely wait until pile driving at the Tchoupitoulas Wal-Mart site concluded before responding to me? As far as I know, pile driving seemed to have concluded (the pile driver wasn't in sight) by Wednesday when I went and made groceries at the store.

Normally, I wouldn't be so conspiratorial about it, but take a look at this:

The screenshot shows a sitemeter-record of someone at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington D.C. (based on the computer location) accessing one of my posts on LIB about the concerns over ongoing pile driving as the river rises. The visit occurred on Tuesday.

I'm not entirely sure what to think.

My real worry now is about additional pile driving I saw underway yesterday at a site down near the border of the Warehouse District and the CBD (not far from the WWII Museum) - again, not terribly far from the river.

I haven't had time to investigate yet, but with the Mississippi waters slated to hit 15 feet - PHASE II - tomorrow, if the graph is to be believed, I'm hoping to find out soon.