New Orleans Flood Control System: Cost And Economic Analysis Research Paper

Length: 12 pages Sources: 6 Subject: Weather Type: Research Paper Paper: #26651194 Related Topics: Cost Benefit Analysis, Systems Analysis, Guatemala, Meteorology
Excerpt from Research Paper :

New Orleans Flood Control System Analysis

Dr. Maribel Mojica Howell

This paper will look into the cost and benefit analysis of the New Orleans Flood Control System. The origin of the flood protection system and its mode of operation will also be discussed. Finally, we will evaluate the expenses of running the system as well as the valuation of expected returns in case of a subsequent calamity.

The engineers faced with the task of strengthening the city's flood protection confess how much they learned during their trip to Dutch riverbanks and floodgates. They also reveal how Netherland's engineers are advanced in this trade and what could be done to level the disaster management preparedness. The Dutch government has funded flood control in billions of dollars and is still pumping money into the projects. The engineers however believed that support and funding from the government is all they need to reach the same status as the Netherlands since there is nothing extraordinary that they do (Martel, 2006). Lots of engineers and politicians have been to the Netherlands hoping to acquire knowledge on how the Dutch managed to come up with such a strong flood defense - capable of enduring the Hurricane and Katrina, storms that overpowered the New Orleans' Flood Control System (Martel, 2006).

Water control has been at top of all priorities in the Netherlands because of their location, 20 feet below sea level. A $15 billion program that stretched for 50 years to protect the south against storm has recently been achieved by the country in building of dams, sea walls and surge barriers - a program that was facilitated by the death of 1800 people who died in the floods in 1953. Every year the country incurs $15 billion as maintenance of the system that keeps the country dry. Replacement of the 19th century riverbank control system with expertise and professionalism on flood control was the only choice that had to be put in place for the state to fund the project. The system was revised by lawmakers but that was not enough as long as the congress agreed to spend billions for it to guarantee safety from another catastrophe like Katarina. Despite the funding approval by the congress, some people in Louisiana still doubt the corps' ability to take care of the work (Martel, 2006).

Hurricane Katarina still holds the record of being the most destructive disaster ever occurred in the U.S. And most expensive ever suffered by the global insurance industry estimating to between $40-$60 billion insured losses (Hurricane Katarina Profile Of A Supper Cat).

A decision based on cost-benefit analysis focusing on the level of protection the city needs to put in place, is vital in the reconstruction stages of New Orleans. The outcome of such an analysis is dependent on different factors which when altered cause different recommendations (Hallegatte, 2007). First-order analysis considers climate change and related disruptions of the environment caused by humans as the primal cause of such catastrophes. Second-order details on the consequences of large-scale disasters, probable shifts in the rate of discount, the damage diversity and risk aversion - a move that may make hurricane protection a wise decision in as much as risk compensation and moral issues - are part of the analysis (Hallegatte, 2007). These outcomes indicate how sensitive the CBA recommendation is towards unclear assumptions and goes ahead to portray the benefits of second-order costs and diversity of damage in welfare losses. Additionally, climate change creates another aspect of uncertainty in the infrastructural make-up that adds to the probability of increasing risks or reduced costs.

An argument arises concerning rebuilding of the New Orleans as well as the plan of the flood protection system six months after the failure of the fourth category of Hurricane Katarina. The vital need to rebuild and enable the city flood protection system to cope with the fifth category of


Precautionary principle has been suggested as an additional decision-making framework for protection from natural disaster. According to CBA, New Orleans would be a beneficiary of flood protection system capable of sustaining category five of hurricanes as opposed to category three and four hurricanes if only excess costs of the new system was less than the benefits expected from lowered flood damages. This article shows the difference in conclusions made from two assessments putting the dire consequences of Katrina (Hallegatte,2007).

The Protection System

In as much as U.S. Government and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ( USACE - organization facilitating the rebuilding of flood protection system) where put to question about their decision that came after the storm, minority doubted the government's dedication to reconstruct the flood defenses better than it used to be (Lo, 2012). USACE prediction was that they come up with a 100-year-level- risk reduction - capable of enduring high floods expected every 100 years - by the beginning of June 2011, an achievement that came to be right on the predicted time (Lo, 2012).

Larry Haser, the program manager at the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC) - the company contracted by USACE confessed that most of the time the project was working on two shifts a week in order to meet the deadline stipulated (Lo, 2012). The U.S. government developed a quick way to provide state funds, a move that was done in a straightforward manner but without consideration of eligibility. To begin with, two different administrations made known and convinced the people of New Orleans that the country was dedicated to establish the best risk reduction system to them and to the whole world, a project that made them spend $14 billion. The chief public affairs Ken Holder owes the success of the project to immediate honest funding as opposed to money received in small quantities (Lo, 2012).

Currently, the new Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) is still going through many changes regardless of exceeding its century level objective. Its main aim being to evaluate why the plan of the 2005 system failed and providing alternative systems, which have never occurred to the country ever before (Lo, 2012). The new defense system includes other additional physical features like levees, floodwalls, pump stations and gated structures. The IHNC - Lake Borgne still holds the world's record of being the largest civil project in the history of USACE. The surge barrier is built in such a way that it is an imposing 26ft tall building that stretches to more than two miles across the Mississippi River Gulf outlet and the Golden Triangle Marsh which marks the most important point at which sudden floods occur (Lo, 2012). The Seabrook Floodgate Complex has been created to work in collaboration with the IHNC -Lake Borgne Surge Barrier in order to offer protection to other areas most affected by the Hurricane Katarina. Such areas include metro New Orleans, the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) and the West Closure Complex (WCC) are the other major features of the HSDRRS. They contain the biggest pump station in the whole world together with protection of the foreshore and control of water in the U.S. (Lo, 2012).

The effectiveness of the IHNC surge barrier lent a test method that resembled that of Shawn Group. In order to study the effectiveness of the wave forces on the gates of the T-wall and approach wall, a very big basin model was created at the location of the IHNC (Lo, 2012). This is due to the tight schedule and the high quality of the high-tech 3D design software used to create the blueprints and simulate the design of the complex.

Inasmuch as there is still a lot of work for the civil engineers undertaking in the history of USACE, most of the work is complete. Some of the indicated achievements include more pumping stations, closure of canals and mitigation of the environment. The risk of floods from the storms is still a challenge as it still exceeds the system's capability to hold. Professionals indicate that the Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System are at a better state now compared to any other time in the history of the city. The existence of a new and tough flood protection system is in operation now, and has been delivered at the right time. New Orleans is more protected from the storms than it used to be (Lo, 2012). After the catastrophic event of the Hurricane Katarina in the last six years, the city and the economy are still in the process of building and earning back what was destroyed. The news of the new protection system has enabled the people to regain their lost hope, comfort and gain more hope for recovery from the dreadful event.

Cost Benefit Analysis

In order to conduct a CBA the fifth category of flood protection in New Orleans, it's important to evaluate the system's cost and expected benefits. Assessing the…

Sources Used in Documents:



Hallegatte, S. (2007, July 22). A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the New Orleans Flood Protection System. Retrieved February 25, 2015, from <>


Lo, C. (2012, May 8). Louisiana's flood protection infrastructure: Safeguarding the South. Retrieved February 25, 2015, from <>
Hurricane Katrina: Profile of a Super Cat Lessons and Implications for Catastrophe Risk Management. (2005, January 1). Retrieved February 25, 2015, from
Mastrandrea & Schneider. (2005). Probabilistic Integrated Assessment of "Dangerous" Climate Change. Science, 304, 571-575. Retrieved from <>
Martel, B. (2006, March 7). Louisiana delegation studies flood control systems in the Netherlands. Retrieved February 26, 2015, from

Cite this Document:

"New Orleans Flood Control System Cost And Economic Analysis" (2015, February 28) Retrieved January 21, 2022, from

"New Orleans Flood Control System Cost And Economic Analysis" 28 February 2015. Web.21 January. 2022. <>

"New Orleans Flood Control System Cost And Economic Analysis", 28 February 2015, Accessed.21 January. 2022,

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