Defying Gravity, Water, and Time to Keep New Orleans Dry

May 24, 2022

Discover how Timken Power Systems helped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Pump to the River Project move up to nine inches of rain for a 24-hour period.

The challenge

With water to its north and south as well as the Mississippi River running directly through it, the New Orleans metropolitan area is especially high-risk for flooding. 

Near the river, storm water needed to travel through a seven-mile network of canals before being pumped into Lake Pontchartrain at the other end of the city. The result was repeated flooding of river-adjacent neighborhoods due to slow draining during heavy rains. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needed a first-of-its kind system to pump water over a levee and into the Mississippi River. So they called Timken Power Systems. 

The solution

The system ⎯ named the Harahan Pump to the River project ⎯ required special care to protect the levee’s integrity. 

The Timken Power Systems team custom-designed three double-reduction, right-angle gear reducers with redundant lubrication, monitoring, and instrumentation systems for extra protection in case of equipment failure. They also provided technical support during the extended start-up period. 

The result

Today, the Pump to the River system can easily handle up to nine inches of rain in a 24-hour period. It has continued to function successfully since Timken Power Systems helped bring the project to life in late 2017 ⎯ keeping New Orleans safe and dry. 

Comprehensive support

The Pump to the River system is just one of several New Orleans-based projects Timken Power Systems has engineered over the past 50 years. The team’s solutions can be found in most of the 240+ pump stations across the New Orleans metropolitan area.

During Hurricane Katrina, the Timken Power Systems-equipped pumps at Station 19 were the last to shut down. Supplemented by portable pumps and power from generators, the pumps continually ran completely underwater for three weeks. After flooding subsided, Timken Power Systems supported station personnel with instructions for flushing and inspecting units, as well as a complete restoration. 

And at the Elmwood Pump Station, one of the older and larger pump houses in the area, Timken Power Systems has upgraded the gearing, bearings, and lubrications on eight units without changing the original blueprint ⎯ saving capital and lifecycle costs. With proper maintenance, the units often run for 50 to 60 years ⎯ ensuring peace of mind for decades to come.