There are eleven pumps along the Ouachita River and seven pumps throughout Monroe. The purpose of those pumps is to fight flooding.
Tom Janway, the Monroe Public Works Director, says, “It moves water out of a low area within the city and pumps it to an area, where hopefully homes will not flood.”
Officials say the pumps automatically turn on and begin working when water reaches certain levels in a wet well below the pump stations.
Charles Westrom, the Sewer Manager says, “You can see on the monitor, this is looking down into the wet well. This is where the first pump cuts on, the second and the third pump.”
However, officials say too much rain in a short period of time overwhelms the pumps, which was the case during March’s heavy storms.
At that point, officials say residents should be ready to take extra precautions to prevent flooding.
Janway says,”I think people should not be complacent, who live in areas where they are protected by a storm water pump. Due to nature, it seems like here in the last few years, our rainfall events have been a lot more intense.”
Another problem that keeps the pumps from working correctly is large debris. Officials say this is actually an issue residents can help fix by keeping drainage ditches clean.
Westrom says,”When a piece of debris floats into the station, it can become lodged in the pump, and when something becomes lodged in the pump, it can take the pump out of service.”
Typically there are six employees in charge of monitoring and maintaining the pump stations, but during a rain event, officials say the number of employees working on the pumps goes up to 19.
Currently, new technology is in the final stages of being tested that officials say would allow the pump stations to be managed remotely.
Westrom says,”From a computer in the office, it will let us turn the pumps on turn or turn them off if we need to. Take take whatever action we need to correct and instant notification of any problems.”
Officials say pump supervisors will have access to the remote system in their offices and cars. It will also be available to the city’s administration and council.
There are plans to build a new pump station on Georgia Street in South Monroe. Officials say its a state funded project that’s been in the works for several years.