NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Presiding over his last Sewerage and Water Board meeting before he leaves office, Mayor Mitch Landrieu had a stern warning for the board and New Orleans about the city's drainage system.
"There is no way, there is no way, zero way, to reduce the risk of flooding if we do not invest money in new drainage and new pumps," said Landrieu.
Landrieu says since the August 5th flood, there have been improvements made to the city's drainage system including nearly tripling the pump's power.
"Based on the work we have done in the last 7 or 8 months we have now not only stabilized the system, we put it in better shape than in its history," said Landrieu.
The Mayor says in the last 8 years, the city has been rebuilding every massive piece of infrastructure from the NOPD to the Airport. He adds we have one of the oldest drainage systems in the country, and it's been underfunded for decades. Replacing it, he says, now needs to be the number one priority for New Orleanians.
"I believe that we have to create a whole new system and the low number is 600 million, the high number is somewhere in the billions and there is no way to do that without a new revenue stream that has to come from the citizens of New Orleans related specifically to drainage," Landrieu said.
Also, at Wednesday's meeting, the Sewerage and Water Board approved a contract extension for its interim executive director. Her contract was set to expire on May 7th; that's the same day Mayor-elect Latoya Cantrell takes office. That contract will now go until May 22nd to give Cantrell and the board more time to find a replacement.
We reached out to Mayor-elect Cantrell's office and requested an on-camera interview about the Mayor's comments. But, a spokesman told us she was not available. Cantrell's office says her recommendations related to the Sewerage and Water Board will be released May 3rd.