S&WB urging neighbors not to run water when it's above freezing

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Sewerage and Water Board is urging residents to turn off their running water when it's above freezing outside. The demand has been so high during this cold snap the utility is concerned about low water pressure.

"Because folks have been running their water it's been taxing the system a little bit more than normal," said Joe Sensebe with the S&WB's Interim Emergency Management and Support Team.

The concern is that lower water pressure can limit the New Orleans Fire Department's ability to draw the water it needs to fight fires.

"Water pressure is critical to us, and so we urge people don't run water when you don't have to and keep it to a minimum. It affects plenty, plenty of things that we do," said NOFD Superintendent Tim McConnell.

The S&WB says because of the spike in demand, it had to reduce its water pressure to manage stress on the system.

"What we're asking the public to do is if you feel the need to run your water to prevent your pipes from freezing, in the evening you choose the faucet that is furthest away from the spot where you turn your water on, your main water valve, and run that water at a pencil-lead-thin stream. You only have to run one faucet," said Sensebe.

The good news is the Fire Chief says the reduced pressure hasn't been an issue yet.

"Pay attention to the temperature, not the feels-like temperature or the wind chill, those are affecting living creatures right, plants, humans, pets - not your water. It's a physics thing. If it's not below 32, your pipes aren't going to freeze," said McConnell.

Both the NOFD and the Sewerage and Water Board have a plan in place if the pressure gets too low.

"We have not had any low pressure in the hydrants that has caused us any issues. If we do experience that we do have a process where we notify the Sewerage and Water Board and they'll boost pressure for us," said McConnell.

"The Sewerage and Water Board is prepared that if there is a significant fire demand throughout the evening we have procedures and processes in place, staff is here 24 hours a day that we can meet that additional fire demand,"said Sensebe.

The S&WB says there's no concern at this point that the pressure will drop low enough to trigger a boil water advisory. The utility estimates water pressure will return to normal by Friday.

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