MSD workers trade in their usual jobs to take on flood protection duties

February 14, 2020

Dozens of our co-workers left their regular jobs in engineering, communications and other departments this week to take up posts as flood pump operators at flood pumping stations along the Ohio River this week. The roster of 43 primary operators and 22 alternates was activated on February 12 to protect the city from flooding due to the rising river.

As of Friday morning on Valentine’s Day, they had seven of our sixteen flood pumping stations in 24-hour-a-day operation. An eighth station may be activated over the coming weekend. Duties of the operators include running the pumps, monitoring their performance, keeping them properly greased and more while water levels on the Ohio River and its tributaries remain high.

The Friday afternoon reading at the Upper Pool gauge, the area upstream of the locks and dam that includes downtown Louisville, was 23.36 feet with a projected crest on Sunday above 26.5 feet.

The Lower Pool gauge, measuring the area downstream of the locks and dam, was 54.29 feet with a projected Sunday crest above 57.5 feet. We do not anticipate the need to install any floodwall roadway closures.

Flood Protection Supervisor Glen Cooper II emphasized that the roster of flood pump operators is built exclusively from volunteers and people selected by their managers throughout MSD who have other functions as their primary jobs. “When we go into flood mode, this becomes their primary job and their regular job is secondary,” Cooper explained. They receive training from the 18-person Flood Protection Department in preparation for their duties.

Department personnel went into action on February 9 inspecting flood gates, checking their electrical power and manual actuators, and preparing to close them as needed. They also continually make the rounds of pump stations to check in with the pump operators.

Harrods Creek sewer repair update

Rising water in Harrods Creek has flooded both sections of the project to repair broken sewer lines in Prospect. As a result, equipment has been moved to higher ground and the repair effort is on hold until the water level recedes. The project involves repairs to two pipes 35 feet underground at a spot inside a bend in the creek that runs under U.S. 42. Crews will remain on-site to make sure pumps continue operating 24 hours a day during the repair delay.