S&WB infrastructure issues run deep

S&WB infrastructure issues run deep

Even before the recent big freeze that gripped the city, boil water advisories were not a novelty for the Sewerage and Water Board.

It was something Mayor Mitch Landrieu referenced during a televised press conference during the height of last week's water pressure crisis.

"We're bleeding about 40 percent of our water…We have an old, tired system that hasn't had the kind of deferred maintenance that a system requires, and so it breaks. We're in the process right now of hundreds of millions of dollars of repairs," said the mayor.

"The service lines sometimes made of solid lead and found in many of our front yards that we live in town in old areas are in need of replacement," said H.J. Bosworth, a civil engineer with Levees.org which came about after federally built levees failed during Hurricane Katrina.

Bosworth agrees the problems plaguing the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board are myriad.

"A perfect storm almost of things going wrong and things that haven't been handled and infrastructure that hasn't been invested in," said Bosworth.

Still the need to boil water leaves residents and businesses irritated.

"It is so frustrating, it's extra work for the employees, for the owners for the workers in the back," said Del Jaber, as a business establishment Wednesday as a boil water order remained in effect for the west bank of the city.

Bosworth said given that the Mississippi River is low the raw water intake was impacted last week which may have exacerbated the water pressure during the extraordinary cold spell.

"And they take that water from the river and they pass it into the treatment plant."  **butt** But with a low river they're limited to how much water they can actually move and that may have fed in to the low water pressure we had last week, certainly breaks all over town waste a lot of water."

The Army Corps of Engineers confirmed to FOX News that the river level is low.

The city's position on the map cannot be ignored in terms of S&WB infrastructure problems.

"It's important to understand we've got a geology challenge and we've got a big management challenge and I think management can fix this," said Bosworth.

S&WB spokesman Richard Rainey issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"The Sewerage & Water Board is assessing and repairing as many leaks as possible after the hard freeze taxed our water system. We have crews working around the clock throughout the city to respond to reports of leaks and to locate and repair them. We're urging residents to continue to report suspected leaks to the S&WB by either calling 52-WATER or on Twitter at @SWBNewOrleans."

"Too often these things go months and if not years without being repaired and that's a Sewerage and Water Board management problem that needs to be addressed and I think the new Sewerage and Water Board interim leader understands that in pretty good detail," said Bosworth.

And an aged system aside, Bosworth is convinced that significant improvement can be made.

"I think that FEMA has an available amount of cash that the Sewerage and Water Board can use to fix this problem," he said.

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