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Water, drainage a major topic at New Orleans council debate

Candidates in all four district runoffs were at the forum Tuesday night, with the election just 11 days away.

NEW ORLEANS — It’s all around us and for New Orleans city council runoff candidates, water flooded the conversation Tuesday night.   

“It’s imperative that we talk about climate, and coast, and water to make sure our city is even here,” said executive director of the Water collaborative of Greater New Orleans Jessica Dandridge. “It doesn’t matter if our buses work if we’re standing in water all the time.”  

From coastal restoration and hurricane protection to green infrastructure and drainage, water seeps into our daily lives. Dandridge says with federal infrastructure money on the way, water must be part of the conversation.   

“People forget that New Orleans is actually a coastal city. We forget that because of the levee walls and the pumping stations, but water is everywhere,” said Dandridge.   

One water topic that floated up is whether the city should create a storm water management fee to help curb problems with flooded streets after heavy rain.  

“A lot of times people think our issues just start and end with the pumps but it’s actually just one quarter of the conversation,” said Dandridge. “There’s a lot more to be had.”  

Discussion about a fee is already happening, but no details on price.  

“This is an opportunity for all of us to invest and to express to level and importance of the issue,” said Stephen Musgrove who was representing Stephanie Bridges who is a candidate for District C.  

“This storm water management fee is something that needs to be paid for by everyone, by non-profits, by residents, by businesses, by everybody,” said District B candidate Jay Banks.    

There is some question though on who would oversee the money.    

“I don’t favor a management fee and having the money go to the sewerage and water board,” said District D candidate Eugene Green. “I feel that it would have to be done in some way that made sense, that we could all by into.” 

Whatever happens, candidates agree drainage must reach every community. 

“In Pontchartrain Park there are actual hot zones that impact black and brown communities and I think that needs to be center,” said District D candidate Troy Glover. 

There’s even a proposal to make sure that happens.  

“My legislation is actually about looking at specific commercial properties to help rebuild blighted properties but also to make sure that they are also held accountable to the storm water management work that needs to be done,” said District E candidate Cyndi Nguyen.  

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