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This webpage reproduces a section of
1895 Advisory Board Report
on the
Drainage of the City of New Orleans

Text and maps are in the public domain.


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Part II

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p11 Part I
Introduction

New Orleans, April 29, 1895.

To the Honorable, the Mayor and Council Of the City of New Orleans:

Gentlemen:

The Advisory Board on Drainage of the City of New Orleans, appointed by Ordinance No. 8327, C. S., dated November 24th, 1893, have the honor to forward, with its approval, a plan for the drainage of the City of New Orleans. The commencement of the work, as soon as practicable, is recommended.

We desire to recognize the efficient services of Mr. L. W. Brown, City Engineer, and also, of the members of the engineering corps assisting him in the work, both in the field and office.

We further recommend the continuation of the rain-fall record and of the run‑off observations.

Respectfully submitted,

R. M. Walmsley, Chairman,
J. C. Denis,
Albert Baldwin,
B. M. Harrod,
Henry B. Richardson,
Rudolph Hering,

Advisory Board.

Part I
Introduction

To the Advisory Board on Drainage of the City of New Orleans:

Gentlemen:— The undersigned Engineering Committee, appointed by you on December 14th, 1893, have the honor to present the following final report concerning their investigations into the subject of the drainage of the City of New Orleans, as well as their approval of a certain plan therefor, as authorized by Ordinance No. 8327, C. S., adopted November 24th, 1893.

The first steps leading up to this report were taken by the City Council of the City of New Orleans, by the passage of Ordinance No. 7170, C. S., adopted February 6, 1893, an ordinance providing for the making of a topographical survey; and formulating a complete and comprehensive system of drainage for the City of New Orleans, and authorizing the making of the necessary investigations, of which the following is a copy:

No. 7170, Council Series

Mayoralty of New Orleans,
City Hall, Feb. 6, 1893

Whereas, the drainage of the City of New Orleans, is in an extraordinary disastrous condition, and, Whereas, There is no uniform or general plan adopted for the drainage of the city, and, Whereas, Large sums of money have been spent from time to time without any general system or plan of drainage being adopted, and, Whereas, Were a general and comprehensive system adopted, such money as is spent from time to time on drainage could be spent in such a manner as to further the completion of a complete system, and, Whereas, There is no positive or correct data as to the topography of the city, and, Whereas, It is absolutely necessary in order to formulate a thorough and comprehensive plan of drainage, for the engineers to have exact, precise and full information relative to the topography of the city, the conditions of the soil as to absorption, and other date pertinent to the subject.

Be it ordained by the Common Council of the City of New Orleans, That by and with the approval of the Board of Liquidation, the sum of seventeen thousand, five hundred dollars, ($17,500) from that portion of the surplus in the hands of said Board, which, by Section 10 of Article 110 of the Acts of the Legislature of 1890, is dedicated for public improvements, be and is hereby appropriated for the making of a thorough and complete topographical survey of the City of New Orleans and to obtain all the necessary data requisite for the formulating of a complete plan of drainage.

Be it further ordained, etc., That, immediately the information is obtained, the City Engineer will prepare and submit to the Council of the City of New Orleans a complete and comprehensive plan with sufficient p12detail to enable the plan to be thoroughly understood, and in such form as to designate the manner in which the work can be executed by degrees as money may be appropriated from time to time for the purpose of drainage, so that such money as is spent will be towards the ultimate completion of the complete plan.

Be it further ordained, etc., That the City Engineer, in conjunction with the Mayor and chairman of the committee on Water and Drainage, shall have authority to call, if necessary, an advisory board of expert engineers on drainage for the purpose of confirming by competent authority such plan as may be adopted.

Be it further ordained, etc., That the City Engineer shall confer with the Mayor as to the expenditures, and will report every two weeks to the Council of the City of New Orleans, of the progress of the work and expenses of the same.

Adopted by the Council of the City of New Orleans, January 31, 1893.

Dan A. Rose, Clerk of Council.

Approved February 6, 1893.

John Fitzpatrick, Mayor.

A true copy:

Clark Steen, Secretary to the Mayor.

When the work was inaugurated, Messrs. Rudolph Hering, B. M. Harrod and H. B. Richardson, were appointed an "Advisory Board of Engineers," under the provisions of Ordinance No. 7350, C. S., adopted March 30th, 1893, which ordinance reads as follows:

No. 7350 Council Series

Mayoralty of New Orleans,
City Hall, March 30, 1893

Be it ordained by the Common Council of the City of New Orleans, That Section 3 of Ordinance No. 7170, adopted February 6, 1893, be amended so as to read as follows: "Be it further ordained, etc., That the Mayor shall appoint three (3) competent engineers to form an advisory board of engineers, for the purpose of approving or disapproving of the plan proposed by the City Engineer for the making of the topographical survey of the City of New Orleans, and obtaining information necessary for the formulating of a plan of drainage, as also to thoroughly investigate and pass upon such plan of drainage as may be submitted to the City Council approval, the compensation of this board of expert engineers to be paid out of the fund provided for in this ordinance, which compensation is to be fixed by the Mayor, the chairman of the water and drainage committee, and the chairman of the finance committee of the City Council."

Adopted by the Council of the City of New Orleans, March 28, 1893.

Dan A. Rose, Clerk of Council.

Approved March 30, 1893.

John Fitzpatrick, Mayor.

A true copy:

Clark Steen, Secretary to the Mayor.

Subsequently, the present organization of the Advisory Board was created by Ordinance No. 8327, C. S., which Ordinance reads as follows:

No. 8327 Council Series

Mayoralty of New Orleans,
City Hall, Nov. 24, 1893

Whereas, This, the Common Council of the City of New Orleans has pledged itself to do all in its power for the effective drainage of the City of New Orleans; and whereas, the most available funds for this purpose, in which all are so greatly interested are derived chiefly from the sales of franchises: p13Be it resolved, That the sum of seven hundred thousand (700,000) dollars, derived from the sale of the franchise of the city railroads acquired by Henry Bier, be and the same is hereby created a sacred fund to be devote exclusively and solely for drainage purposes. Be it further resolved, That the plans for the preliminary topographical survey, if the hereinafter advisory board should deem the same necessary as well as any plans of survey or plans of drainage offered by civil engineers or other parties, shall be submitted to the advisory board, to be composed of Mr. H. B. Richardson, present Chief State Engineer, Major B. M. Harrod, Mr. Rudolph Hering, Mr. R. M. Walmsley, Mr. J. C. Denis, and Mr. Edward Fenner, for approval or recommendation by said board to the City Council; provided, that no plan of drainage shall be finally adopted by the said advisory board, unless it receives the approval of a majority of the aforesaid City Council. In case of the death of any member of the advisory board herein named, the other members shall select another person to act with them. Be it further resolved, That the Clerk of the Council is hereby instructed to send a notice to the members of the aforesaid advisory board of the meetings of the committee on drainage, in order that said members may be advised and enabled to be present at said meetings.

Adopted by the Council of the City of New Orleans, November 21, 1893.

Dan A. Rose, Clerk of Council.

Approved November 24, 1893.

John Fitzpatrick, Mayor.

A true copy:

Clark Steen, Secretary to the Mayor.

In order to inform themselves of the nature and merits of the various plans that, had been proposed from time to time, relative to the drainage of the city, inquiry was made into the history of the subject; an account of which will be found in Appendix II.

To further learn the views of civil engineers, and others who had plans to present, or were otherwise interested in the subject of draining the city, several public meetings were held, and the information obtained from those gentlemen who appeared before the Board was afterwards carefully considered.

The first of the public meetings of the Advisory Board, after due advertisement, was held in the Council Chamber December 14th, 1893, and was addressed by Mr. S. D. Peters, Mr. Geo. H. Grandjean and Hon. Chas. Louque.

At the adjourned meeting on December 15th, Mr. S. S. Peters appeared, and thoroughly explained his plans.

On February 19th, 1894, the late Mr. J. L. Gubernator appeared before the committee and explained his plan relative to the drainage of the city.

A final public meeting was held, after due advertisement, in the Council Chamber, on February 15th, 1895, and was addressed by Mr. A. F. Wrotnowski, C. E., Mr. G. H. Grandjean, C. E., Mr. A. C. Bell, C. E., Mr. S. D. Peters, and Hon. Charles Louque.

In order to enable your committee to form a safe judgment upon the merits of proposed plans, an inquiry had first to be made regarding all existing information relating to the subject. It was found that some of the essential factors for this judgment were not available. Your committee, at a meeting on May 2d, 1893 (then, acting as a p14Board of Advisory Engineers), issued to the City Engineer, Mr. L. W. Brown, the necessary instructions relative to the investigations which were to be made, for the purpose of collecting the data that were absolutely required to properly solve the problem before them. In conformity with these directions, the City Engineer secured the necessary instruments, etc., so that actual work on the topographical survey was begun about the first of July, 1893, after which it proceeded uninterruptedly until about the first of September, 1893, when, by injunction issued by the Civil District Court, the work was stopped. After the removal of the injunction, work was resumed about the middle of December, 1893, and continued until the present time.

With the light thus furnished, your committee thoroughly and carefully examined into the plans submitted at the public meetings, and those which were otherwise available. They found that, while the authors had shown much industry in formulating their plans, they were not based on reliable topographical and hydrographical data, and while they contained some useful suggestions, no one of them would be recommended as a whole by your committee. None of the plans provided with sufficient definiteness for a suitable and permanent improvement of the existing conditions of drainage in the commercial and resident portion of the city, which was deemed by your committee to be a most important part of a drainage plan. It, therefore, devolved upon the City Engineer, Mr. L. W. Brown, to make, with the funds available for the purpose, all necessary computations and plans, and to base them upon the results obtained by the preliminary work that had been done by him, as well as upon all the other information furnished by previous plans and suggestions which were at his disposal. Step by step this work was carefully examined and approved by your committee, which had made itself thoroughly familiar with the territory, its needs, and the propositions for its improvement, and now approves the work as a whole.

In the following, this plan is described in its general features, and a suggestion submitted for the manner of prosecuting the work, and a statement of its approximate cost. In order to justify a recommendation of the plan, it is desirable to precede the description by a statement of the general requirements thereof, to satisfy all the important demands and to solve the drainage problem, not only for the present but also for the future, and by a statement of the essential factors that are necessary for such a solution.


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