NEW ORLEANS -- After boil water orders were issued in New Orleans in November 2010, Mayor Mitch Landrieu wrote a letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal asking for money for power plant repairs.
In the letter from February 2011, Landrieu called repairs to the water system power plant 'an urgent public health issue given the necessity to issue 'boil water' notices in November during one of its failures.'
'Here in New Orleans, we need $200 million to repair the Sewer & Water Board's power plant, which in nearly 100 years of operation has failed only four times -- all since Hurricane Katrina,' Landrieu wrote.
Landrieu got the money he asked for, but it hasn't been used yet. The federal government released an additional $390 million in November 2011 when the feds acknowledged that the state should get more Hazard Mitigation money (grants to strengthen infrastructure against future storms) under a FEMA formula for Hurricane Katrina and Rita aid.
It was a coup for New Orleans, which got $270 million of the $390 million. Mayoral spokesman Ryan Berni said $8.4 million was set aside for making a New Orleans East hospital resistant to a 500-year storm.
And $141 million was set aside for improvements to the Sewerage & Water Board power plant and water intake system.
'Those are in the queue for final approvals and obligation,' Berni said.
He said the city is considering other Sewerage and Water Board related projects and improvements to other city facilities with the remaining $120 million.