In The News › Group says water board’s woes unlikely to improve soon

Group says water board’s woes unlikely to improve soon

By Katie Moore


July 23, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – What began as an early morning headache as water poured from a broken main down several streets in the Uptown/Carrollton area, extended into a daylong problem as the Sewerage & Water Board soon issued a ‘boil water’ advisory for the affected area.

The advisory, which should be lifted sometime Wednesday includes: South Carrollton Avenue from Maple Street to the river; Maple Street to Loyola Street; Loyola Street to Jackson Avenue and Jackson Avenue to the River.
The notice to boil water sent some Uptown businesses searching for bottled water. At Reginelli’s, servers replaced customers’ water, soda and ice with bottled drinks.

Many residents near the break woke to little or no water pressure.

“We woke up with no water, which is why my hair looks so good,” said Kelley Porter. “No showers.”

Even though the break took place around daybreak, the Sewerage & Water Board didn’t issue the advisory for about six hours.

“If the results showed that the area where we collected data had less than 15 psi, we would have immediately issued that advisory because that’s what the regulation says,” said Marcia St. Martin, the Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board. “It was at 16. And, at 16, we had to be very precautionary in balancing the inconvenience that this decision has caused to the citizens, to the businesses – with public health.”

It’s the fifth time in the past three years that New Orleans residents have had to boil their water because of a pressure failure.

Watchdog group BGR, says it’s a problem unlikely to improve anytime soon, even with significant rate increases over the next few years.

The water board only plans to spend about $280 million on water system repairs, not the $3.2 billion the board estimated the system needs.

“We’re still going to be plagued by the problem that drives people absolutely crazy, which is breaks in the water pipes,” said Janet Howard of BGR.

In the meantime, some will continue to ignore the advisories, while others will adapt.

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