NEW ORLEANS – Cleaning out catch basins is a dirty job and the ones at Claiborne and St. Bernard Avenue are no exception.
They are filled with mud, muck and sometimes more.
“It's Mardi Gras beads, it's chicken boxes, it's beer cans. It's mud, rocks, silt, sand, bike tires, car tires, shopping carts. Anything that can fit into a catch basin grate, we're responsible for pulling out of there,” Josh Graham, assistant manager of Compliance Envirosystems, said.
The company was hired by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to clean out catch basins on state roads in the city and they have a big job ahead of them, cleaning out 750 catch basins in two weeks.
“It's normal for us because this is what we do. This is the business that we're in. We have access to a tremendous amount of equipment and resources,” Graham said.
The company is using 12 vacuum trucks that also do double duty cleaning the pipes. They suck the debris out of the catch basins and then a high-pressure hose cleans the inside of the pipes. Many haven’t been cleaned since Hurricane Katrina.
“If you're just gonna clean the catch basins, you're not gonna do any good because your pipes are dirty. If you're just gonna clean the pipes you're not gonna do any good because your catch basins are dirty,” Graham said.
After the flooding in the city on August 5, it became clear the work needs to get done quickly.
“We understand what the residents of the city of New Orleans are going through, so we're gonna do everything that we can do to get these drains as clear as we can for them before it happens again,” Graham said.
Graham said it costs about $500,000 to clean out the 750 catch basins. Compliance Envirosystems is hoping to be ahead of schedule and get the work done in ten days.