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'We had a few issues' | New $62M pumping station at Alligator Bayou gets tested during recent flooding

Expansion project has six new pumps that will pump flood water out of canals and ditches into the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
Credit: 12News
DD7's Alligator Bayou expansion project has six new pumps that will pump flood water out of canals and ditches into the Intracoastal Waterway.

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — After more than a decade of holding their breath and graveling for more money and time, Jefferson County's new Alligator Bayou pumping station in Port Arthur is ready for the 2021 hurricane season. 

The $62 million project at Alligator Bayou is 98% complete as hurricane season gets underway in the Atlantic. And after two historic flood events, Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda, the project couldn't come at a better time. 

"We've updated everything to a 25-year storm and in many places up to a 100 year storm,"  said Allen Sims, vice president for water resources at LJA Engineering in Beaumont. 

Sims' firm was hired by DD7 to complete the Alligator Bayou project. It's a project that begin in 2015. 

The project includes six new, smaller pumps that can pump 1.5 million gallons of water from canals and ditches into the Intracoastal Waterway every minute. That's double what the old pumps could handle.

"The new pumps are vertical axle flow, so they're easier to start," Sims said. "You turn them on and engage the pump within minutes." 

It's a much faster process compared to DD7's older pumps which took 45 minutes to begin pumping water. 

While the new pumping station, the largest local pump project constructed in the last 30 years, is a much-needed and highly regarded project, it still wouldn't be able to handle the flooding Southeast Texas saw during Harvey. 

Sims says DD7 processed 30,000 cubic feet of water per second during Harvey. The new pumps are able to pump 10,000 cubic feet of water per second. 

"We are pretty much able to pump every storm we see except another Harvey," Sim reassured. 

And the new pumps got a big test during the May 2021 flooding across Southeast Texas -- including parts of Port Arthur and Mid-County. 

"We had a few issues that came up, and we had two or three pumps that shut down. But it took 2-3 hours at most to get them up and running and get those issues worked out," Sims told 12News. 

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DD7 is also working on a project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to raise the levee and increase pumping capacity at the 19 other stations in southern Jefferson County.