NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Sewerage and Water Board representatives faced tough questions Thursday from City Council members about last week's water pressure drop and boil water advisory for the entire east bank of New Orleans.
The advisory was in effect for more than 30 hours, but the public wasn't immediately notified. S&WB Executive Director Cedric Grant said the water was never unsafe, but the long boil advisory was required during the testing phase.
The incident happened July 24 just before 3 a.m. when the Carrollton Avenue water treatment plant experienced a surge that interrupted power at two pumping stations. Because of the surge, water pressure at the plant fell to 20 psi for 12 minutes. Shortly thereafter, the plant was switched to internal power and pressure was brought up to 66 psi.
Water sampling was required to make sure the water supply hadn't been contaminated.
Seven hours later, the public was told to boil water before using it. City Council members say residents and businesses were all affected.
"Particularly restaurants, you know, who are trying to cater, trying to to keep their businesses going," said Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey.
"We apologize for any inconveniences this event may have caused and appreciate the public's patience," Grant said. "I can assure you that I'm committed to do whatever I can to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Even as the investigation into the power surge continues Grant said steps have been taken to accelerate public notification, and that includes notification through the city's NOLA Ready alert system.
Pressure gauges have also been added at several pump stations, and water pressure monitoring equipment has been installed at the power plant. Data is now monitored in real time 24/7.
Grant said $150 million in improvements are currently underway at the Carrollton water treatment plant.