The Flood Protection Authority – East (FPA) is a political subdivision of the State of Louisiana created after Hurricane Katrina in 2007. The FPA is responsible for protecting the East Bank of metropolitan New Orleans - 576,000 residents and $79B of infrastructure - from hurricane and riverine flooding through a unified flood protection system. Within the protected area are noteworthy neighborhoods such as the French Quarter and Garden District, plus 7 universities and colleges, and the nationally significant Port of New Orleans on the Mississippi River.
As an independent agency, the FPA has a Board of Commissioners is appointed by the Governor and a Chief Administrative Officer, who oversees the day-to-day operations of the FPA and implements Board policies. Departments include Operations, Maintenance, Engineering, Police, HR, Finance and IT along with a Deputy CAO (Risk, Safety, Facility Management) and Public Information Director (Website, Social Media, Media Interaction).
The FPA’s primary function of flood protection falls under the Dams Sector of Critical Infrastructure, with a strong focus on the Emergency Services Sector due to its two Police Departments.
The FPA operates and maintains a $5.1B FPA Flood Protection System which consists of:
• 192 miles of levee and floodwall
• 8 navigation flood control structures
• 253 floodgates
• Interior drainage system of 8 small pump stations and 56 miles of drainage canal
• World’s 3 most complex pump stations
The FPA’s independent, state-certified police force patrols not only the flood protection system but also the adjacent neighborhoods and business districts. Our Chief coordinates with 11 other local and state law enforcement agencies for crime prevention and patrolling.
Cooperation is critical for the FPA’s success due to its regional mission. The FPA coordinates actions with three Parish (County) governments and two cities within the region, plus State and Federal agencies, in order to keep the region safe.
Dual Purpose: Technology Use for both Operations and Security
By looking for ways to improve and looking ahead to future needs, the FPA can take advantage of new technology to keep the region safe.The FPA is constantlylooking for innovative and advanced methods and ideas to keep the system monitored, maintained and operated.
Recognizing that technology can provide a more efficient and consistent approach that allocates human resources better, the Authority is in the middle of a multi-year effort to upgrade its physical and cyber security while also improving operational monitoring. Because operating the flood protection system includes monitoring for physical issues such as water seepage or levee slides as well as securing critical infrastructure, the FPA has taken the approach of making technology dual-purpose.
Technology in use throughout the system includes SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) systems at the major pump stations, video cameras, and monitoring gages and sensors as well as access control technology.
There are gages at multiple locations around the system and region that monitor tide levels along Lake Ponchartrain and major waterways, plus the elevation of the
Mississippi River. While these serve a primarily operational purpose, the FPA is working to install sensors on floodgates that show whether the gate is open or closed. This information is available to internal staff and other local agencies, and provides a common picture for all as a storm approaches to show progress for the system being locked down. The sensors also show if there is an unauthorized change in the open/closed gate status so operations and police personnel can handle appropriately.
The FPA has cameras at major structures and key locations throughout the system that support operational decisions (gate closures, water levels) while also tying in to the law enforcement network for security monitoring. In the future, the FPA is considering thermal and additional analytic capabilities.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished construction on three massive pump stations (called PCCP) that drain rainwater from New Orleans and protect against storm surge. These $724M stations include SCADA systems that relay pump and generator data to the other stations plus have built-in cameras which allow operators stationed in the command rooms/hurricane safehouses to observe conditions outside.
It is important to note that these systems are intentionally designed to not allow remote operation of any of the structures for security purposes – monitoring only.
All of this real-time data is securely transmitted, via a private network, to a central location, which is readily available 24/7 during routine operations and emergencyevents. During a storm event, data can be displayed simultaneously at any of the FPA’s Emergency Operation Centers or fed to other emergency management agencies.
Recently, the FPA started its own drone operator program by partnering with the University of New Orleans (UNO) to train staff to operate drones and become certified through the FAA. FPA drones are being incorporated into routine inspections and emergency procedures, plus police operations. The FPA has also created a Drone use policy that incorporates recent legal rulings covering all types of usage. In the future, the FPA plans to utilize LIDARLight Detection andRanging technology to monitor changes in elevation and create 3D imagery our levee system.
The FPA constantly looks for innovative and advanced methods of system monitoring. This is conducted through a comprehensive approach to ensure the technology we use, support and meet the expectations of our community, promote efficient operations and security while considering the economic and physical impact of the lives and property we protect. In addition, technology allows the FPA to mitigate flood risk by capturing and analyzing data to better understand patterns/ trends for improved flood maintenance and mitigation efforts. By looking for ways to improve and looking ahead to future needs, the FPA will take advantage of new technology to keep the region safe.