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Billing, power still problems for Sewerage & Water Board

Estimated bills have led to some customers getting exorbitant charges.

NEW ORLEANS — First it was the pumps, but with many of those issues at the Sewerage & Water Board resolved, the focus is now on power and billing.

When it comes to the turbines that power the pumps, two are in service. The agency says that's generally sufficient, but when it's time for backup power, those noisy diesel generators will kick on.

Neighbors have griped for years about the ear-piercing roars.

Agency leaders say give them two-to-three months and work to muffle them when the kick in should be done.

"We will be audited, so to speak,” Executive Director Ghassan Korban said. “The neighbors are very good at doing their own measuring and keeping us on our toes, rightfully so."

Billing is another years-old problem that the agency has struggled to fix.

RELATED: S&WB testing out ways to quiet dangerously loud generators at Carrollton Plant

Estimated bills have led to some customers getting exorbitant charges. Agency leaders say they needed more people to read more meters to get more accurate bills.

They have that now: Roughly 50, up from about 25.

"The focus has been on meter reading because as most of you know -- all of us know -- we can't get correct bills or accurate bills until we fix meter reading,” Rene Gonzalez, S&WB’s chief customer service office said. “Trash in, trash out."

And while Sewerage & Water Board staffers are finding fewer billing issues on their own, customers are still see them.

There were about 1,300 open cases in June, but utility officials say that's about average.

Meanwhile, work to design and build a new Entergy substation is progressing. That should, hopefully, put an end to things like boil-water advisories.

That new substation is expected to be done by mid-2023.