Congressional leaders not ruling out possible federal investigation into S&WB

Congressional leaders not ruling out possible federal investigation into S&WB

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Louisiana congressional leaders are not ruling out a possible federal investigation into drainage problems at the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board.

"The city has really been hurt," U.S. Senator John Kennedy said. "The trust has been broken, and now every time it's sprinkles a little bit, people in New Orleans are scared half to death...We wonder why people hate government. It's all been a pack a lies. The electricity, the storm drains, the number of pumps, it's just lie after lie after lie after lie."

The federal government has funneled hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to operate and maintain the city's pumping system.

The drainage system is not still working at full capacity more than a week after floodwater damaged homes and businesses in the Seventh Ward, Mid City and Lakeview .

Crews repaired a turbine that caught fire last week and brought in 26 generators for backup power, but 17 pumps remain out of service.

The Orleans Parish Republican Executive Committee and Greater New Orleans Republican PAC requested state and federal lawmakers look into the issue.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has called for an independent review into the problems at the water board. But Kennedy said if he is not satisfied by what the third-party review turns up, he could request a more intensive federal investigation.

"I do want to know what is under everybody's fingernails, because this isn't right. I'm very upset about it," Kennedy said. "I mean this is serious business. I'm not there yet. I want to see with this independent study that the mayor has called for turns up, but there is federal money that went into this stuff, federal taxpayer money, and it didn't just fall from heaven."

Congressman Garret Graves also did not rule out asking for a federal investigation in the future, but he wants the system repaired before blame is placed.

"The important thing right now is just focusing on getting the pumps back online to where that area can be resilient," Graves said. "The last thing we need is to have another flood on top of the one that happened last weekend, and after all of that is cleared up, then we could take a step back and look at what we need to be doing in terms of why things happen the way they did."

S&WB hired five contractors to make emergency repairs, and money is being diverted within the city budget to target clogged catch basins and drainage lines.

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