NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Orleans residents suffered through a hot Friday without the ability to use tap water that wasn't boiled first after a power surge problem prompted a precautionary boil water order on the east bank of New Orleans.
The precautionary boil is still in effect as of 8 a.m. Saturday morning. The S&WB is currently testing water samples, according to City representatives, and will notify residents and businesses when the advisory is canceled.
The blue water of the A.L.Davis pool beckoned, but on another hot summer day, there were no swimmers allowed.
"I don't know what I'm gonna do," said Michael Rayford. "It's hot outside, and I came to swim before work."
The boil order was issued at 10 a.m. on July 24 due to pressure levels that dipped to dangerous lows - a condition that could allow contaminated groundwater into the system.
"Out of an abundance of caution, a boil water advisory was issued at 10 a.m. for the east bank of New Orleans," said Sewerage and Water Board director Cedric Grant.
The order poses serious challenges for restaurants as well as residents
"We go to canned sodas. We go to bottled waters. You read your customers and are supportive to what their needs are," said Deborah Schumacher of Lucy's Retired Surfers' Bar and Restaurant.
The issue is serious. The so-called "brain-eating amoeba" has been found in neighboring parishes, and officials leave little to chance.
"To disinfect the water coming out of the tap, you want to take that, and boil it for one minute," said New Orleans Health Director Charlotte Parent.
Power surges caused pressure equipment to fail at around 3:20 a.m., but the pressure as low as 15 psi wasn't detected until 8 a.m. at various city pumping stations, causing a six-and-a-half-hour lag before the boil water notice went out.
"We took immediate action to put our power online," Grant said. "We always have some, but we brought more online."
East bank residents were told not to bathe in or drink tap water without boiling it first.
S&WB officials say due to a recent millage increase, power surge issues should become a thing of the past.
"It works, but it's under a lot of repair right now," said Grant.
The board is now half finished with two major power grid upgrades costing $150 million.
"We are bringing other systems on line that will make us more resilient," said Grant.
"We've been well trained with hurricanes. We stay ready," said Schumacher.
Sewerage and Water board officials say they are currently sampling the water and will notify the public as soon as it's safe to use.
If you have specific questions about the east bank boil water order, you can call (504) 529-2837.