NEW ORLEANS — After last Wednesday's rains left many city streets under water, attention has turned to the front end of the drainage system: Catch basins and the pipes connecting them to the system.
Ramsey Green, the city's 'Infrastructure Czar,' admitted to the city council Tuesday that a lot of work needs to be done on the city's 72,000 catch basins.
"We are not where we want to be in clearing those lines," Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Green said.
"We know based on the data, that roughly 30,000 of that 72,000 have been touched since August 5th, 2017. Now, some of the were touched shortly after August 5 and could have subsequently been filled up," he said.
In other words, even if a catch basin is marked blue as clean on the city's interactive online map, that cleaning could have taken place two years ago.
After going around the city following the most recent round of flooding, Eyewitness News found mud and debris crippling the system around the city.
“We know it's a problem. We've been articulating that to you since we came in,” Green said.
Adding to the problems: Of the city's five vacuum trucks to clean the drains, two are down for repairs, according to Director of Public Works Keith LaGrange.
“We're being reactive with three trucks. I'm going to be dead honest. We're not going to be proactive,” LaGrange said.
City officials said the cleaning effort should get a much-needed boost from the Fair Share agreement to secure millions of dollars in hospitality industry taxes for infrastructure.
"We're at the forefront, thanks to the Fair Share agreement, with hitting it in the way we really haven't had the opportunity in the past," Green said.