‹ Back to Columns

Castings in New Orleans Pump Station Hold Great Responsibility

Back in September 2010, we published a short article on 57,000-lb. ductile iron castings produced by St. Marys Foundry, St. Marys, Ohio. The castings were used to protect New Orleans against future floods as part of the world’s largest drainage pump station, which was a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project.

Recently, we had the chance to visit another metalcasting facility contributing to the project. Bay Cast Inc., Bay City, Mich., cast 10-ft. diameter steel propellers for the pumping station, which is designed to handle the amount of water associated with a 100-year-flood. Each of the station’s 11 pumps must be able to handle 800,000 gallons/minute.


According to Max Holman, Bay Cast, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers kept communication open between the casting supplier and its own design/purchasing team and was receptive to ideas to reduce the risk of potential casting manufacturing issues before patterns were finalized.  One result of this communication included designing the propellers at steeper angles so more water could be pumped through.

It’s always humbling to stand aside monstrous castings that you can literally step into, but it is even more humbling to think about the responsibility those castings have to the safety of millions of individuals, whether the parts help prevent devastating floods or serve as structural support for our world’s bridges and buildings.

Eight of the pumps were up and running in June in time for New Orleans’ hurricane season. The entire West Closure Complex project, which includes the drainage pump station, was 88% complete as of September. We are confident the castings used in the pump station will be up to their weighty assignment.