Changing environmental conditions can affect the performance and operation of large hurricane and flood protection projects. Advances in scientific and engineering theories and methods may render assumptions on which these projects were based partly or fully obsolete. Because of these changes and the important implications they may have for expected performance of protective structures, a process should be implemented to ensure periodic review of underlying environmental, scientific, and engineering factors that affect New Orleans hurricane protection system performance.
The process for incorporating new scientific information into large flood protection projects, like the New Orleans hurricane protection system, can be affected by congressional reauthorization requirements. Changes or clarifications to congressional policies and reauthorizations as they relate to large construction projects may be necessary to effectively implement findings of periodic scientific reviews.
The IPET has conducted a landmark assessment of the New Orleans HPS that could serve as a platform for future and ongoing assessments of vulnerability, levels of protection, subsidence rates, geological studies, risk assessments, and so on. As the IPET investigations come to an end, many of the external experts that participated in the studies will return to their respective careers outside the Corps of Engineers. Much of the IPET “institutional memory” therefore may not be infused into Corps of Engineers New Orleans District office, the State of Louisiana, or the City of New Orleans.
It is essential that these analyses be extended and subsequently built upon by the Corps of Engineers and others, including the FEMA, NOAA, the State of Louisiana, New Orleans regional municipalities, and the region’s universities, engineers, and scientists. To facilitate future work that builds on the IPET studies, a publicly accessible archive of all data, models, model results, and model products from the IPET project should be created.