What kind of teamwork is critical to successful drainage operations?
There is a control room in each pump station. This is where communications systems and the switchboards for the pumps are located. Here, the operator makes decisions that are then carried out in the pump station, typically by the utility plant worker. Pump station operators and UPWs communicate verbally or with hand signals, given the intense noise created by pumps and all of the motor generators, pressure boosters, fans, and other critical machinery.
The operator is in close communication with all other parts of the system, from Central Control in Carrollton, to the people managing power generation and distribution at Station D in the Eighth Ward, to other pump stations. This communication includes daily, system-wide radio checks at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., as well as constant contact before, during, and after each storm.
Operators use walkie-talkies, radios, phones, and a digital SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system to share information and coordinate operations.
Operators do everything from running pumps to cutting grass, but the complexity of the systems require additional inputs. Many situations and repairs require specialists and subcontractors to pay a visit. This might be a machinist coming in to replace an 80-year old part, an electrician performing a test on a balky generator, or a waste disposal service hauling away trash pulled out of the water from a recent storm.