NEW ORLEANS -- The Sewerage & Water Board will temporarily suspend shutting off water for customers with delinquent accounts that are in dispute as its interim leader shifts his focus from the utility's aging infrastructure to issues such as billing problems.
That announcement came a week after the City Council called a special meeting to discuss billing issues. At that meeting, many customers vented their frustration about abnormally high bills, fears about water being cut off if they cannot pay them and complained about customer service problems when trying to get issues resolved.
Since then, community groups have also asked the agency to consider stopping the practice of turning off water for those who have delinquent bills.
The S&WB on Wednesday said customers whose accounts become delinquent while they are disputing the charges will have a grace period until March 1, 2018, in which they will not face their water being turned off.
Meanwhile, Paul Rainwater, who was brought in to lead the beleaguered agency after the July 22 and Aug. 5 floods, will stay on beyond Nov. 30. His new departure date will be at the end of December.
Several other members of the interim management team, brought in to fill roles at the top of the S&WB after Mayor Mitch Landrieu cleaned house and others chose to leave, will be replaced after they leave at the end of the month.
- Marina Kahn, who works at the Orleans Parish Assessor's Office, will fill the role of interim chief financial officer for the S&WB
- Jade Brown Russell, who already works at the S&WB, will be the interim special counsel.
- Joe Sensebe, with the consulting company Arcadis, will be the interim operations manager.
Stay with Eyewitness News on WWL-TV and WWLTV.com for more on this story, and tune in tonight at 6 p.m. for "Down the Drain," our special investigation in the S&WB.