S&WB: Long way to go, but repairs ahead of schedule

The New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board could remain under a state of emergency through next hurricane season.

NEW ORLEANS -- Nearly a month after torrential rains and broken drainage pumps led to flooding in parts of New Orleans, the Sewerage and Water Board is still scrambling to make emergency repairs.

Friday, the board's new emergency management team leader Paul Rainwater gave an update on the status of the repairs.

"Today there are 13 pumps out of service and they're being assessed right now for emergency repairs, 8 are drainage pumps and 5 are smaller constant duty pumps, used during dry weather," Rainwater said.

Five pumps have been repaired since the August 5 flood. Five additional pumps are expected to be working within the next ten days.

"Just based on the briefing I got today, they are ahead of schedule," Rainwater said.

Three of the five massive turbines that power the pumps also remain out of service.

One of the broken turbines is now being tested and could be available soon. A second is due to come back online in mid to late September. Another is labeled to be determined.

So far the Sewerage and Water Board has spent $35.4 million to stabilize the city's power generation and drainage systems.

This is just the beginning," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. "If the city really wants to address this issue, they are going to get a plan from us in the next 60 to 90 days that goes in whole hog and identifies for everybody what it's going to cost to give the people of this city what they say they want."

Mayor Landrieu admits taxpayers may have to pay a little more to cover the cost of a reliable drainage system going forward.

He added, the system has been under-funded for 40 years leading to the current drainage crisis.

The Sewerage and Water Board is also experiencing a manpower shortage. The agency is short about 340 workers.

For now, S&WB is using private contractors to fill some pump operator positions.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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