In The News › Few answers about what caused water outage

Nov 22, 2010

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: Infrastructure, Orleans Parish

Few answers about what caused water outage

Monday, November 22, 2010
By Katie Moore / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS — City leaders provided few answers Monday about what caused the drop in water pressure on the east bank of Orleans Parish over the weekend. It led to a boil water advisory that was in place for more than 24 hours.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu canceled the advisory late Sunday night.

The water outage highlights big problems with one of the city’s most essential systems.

More than 48 hours after the Sewerage and Water Board power plant failed, city leaders still had few answers about what caused the problem.

“Still trying to get to the bottom of all of that and put it in a detailed report,” said Cedric Grant, deputy mayor of infrastructure.

Meantime, construction resumed Monday at the Claiborne Avenue plant. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building a $31 million generator housed in a separate building to back up Entergy’s power supply to the plant in the event of a storm.

When asked if the generator would have prevented the unexplained outage over the weekend, Grant replied, “That was all part of the long-term strategy to get redundancies in place. That’s exactly what it’s for.”

The Sewerage and Water Board didn’t return our calls or e-mail Monday asking for answers about what went wrong, and how the communication breakdown left a five-hour gap between when they informed the media and when the city informed the public through the NOLA Ready emergency alert system.

“I think that this is a situation where information flow could be improved,” Grant said.

The Bureau of Governmental Research has extensively studied the city’s infrastructure needs and identified the sewerage and water system as one of the most critical in past reports.

“We’re under a consent decree for our sewage system. Our water system is leaking more than 70 percent of the water, which is astronomical rate, compared to what it should be,” said Janet Howard, president and CEO of the BGR.

The Sewerage and Water Board is short $950 million for capital projects planned for the next five years, according to BGR research.

“We’ve seen over the weekend, as if we needed evidence in addition to the leaks all over the city, that there is a serious, serious problem,” Howard said.

The Sewerage and Water Board voted recently to request a property tax hike this year. The Landrieu administration immediately opposed it, as they’re seeking one of their own.

If the City Council were to approve rolling both millages forward, owners of a $250,000 home would see a $163 tax increase from the city, and an additional $108 tax hike from the Sewerage and Water Board.

Nov 22, 2010

Source: WWLTV

Filed under: Infrastructure, Orleans Parish

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