S&WB director says power generation remains ‘fragile’, but claims progress

S&WB director says power generation remains ‘fragile’, but claims progress

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The next three months will be difficult ones for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board as it struggles to replace three turbines needed to power drainage pumps.

The board says it’s making progress.

For the past several years, the city’s drainage system has been plagued by broken turbines needed to run pumps, and three are still down.

“Obviously we are in a fragile bleak state,” said S&WB director Ghassan Korban.

But there’s progress to report.

“The construction of a new power complex is underway at the Carrollton plant that is happening now,” said Mayor Latoya Cantrell.

In less than three months the head of the S&WB says two of three broken turbines will return to operation.

“May 3 is when we will get four back operational and a couple weeks later will have five and that will put us where we were a year ago,” said Korban.

Work on these new pumps won’t come cheap but the mayor says the money will come from a variety of sources.

“Our administration has received $20 million in state capital outlay dollars,” said Cantrell.

And Cantrell says the board will receive $14 million in hazard mitigation funds to purchase new electrical frequency changers for a new power complex. That will begin coming online this fall.

“A lot of times people can’t see what’s behind the scenes but it is moving forward,” said Cantrell.

With last weeks frigid temperatures and major problems with electrical and water systems in Texas, City officials say the work is crucial.

“We just came out of a freeze and we saw the impacts here and in Texas and it shows the importance of having power in freezing weather,” said Cantrell.

And as the board fights to return turbines four and five to service, New Orleanians will pay close attention to the weather, hoping to avoid more scenes like these.

Also at the Wednesday board meeting, superintendent Bob Turner announced he was resigning for personal reasons. Board officials say he has been a key player after coming to the board two years ago from the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority. The board is replacing Turner with interim superintendent Ron Spooner, who will earn $165,000 a year.

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