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Drainage System Facts
Because the river levees are higher than the lake levees, most rainwater is pumped into Lake Pontchartrain. Exceptions are the two (2) West Bank pumping stations and two (2) stations in Eastern New Orleans that pump rainwater into the Intracoastal Waterway or the Industrial Canal.
There are 24 Drainage Pumping Stations in New Orleans which are staffed by experienced personnel. Station personnel are on duty 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
There are also 12 underpass stations, each with two or three pumps, that are automatically turned on by rising water. These pumps are checked every day and are monitored by field personnel during rain events.
There are two important underpass pumping stations that are the responsibility of the State Highway Department and NOT the S&WB. These are on the west bank at the General DeGaulle underpass at the Mississippi River Bridge ramps and on the East Bank at the Pontchartrain Expressway at the Southern Railroad tracks and Metairie cemeteries.
The S&WB's drainage network includes approximately 90 miles of open canals and 90 miles of subsurface canals. Many of the subsurface canals are large enough to drive a bus through.
Generators that provide much of the power for pumps throughout the city are located at the S&WB power plant.
Operations Department crews watch the canal water level, monitor weather forecast through a direct tie to the National Weather Service Radar System, communicate with other stations and senior management, and keep informed on weather activity around the city.