S&WB shows off $82 million in improvements since last year's floods

S&WB shows off $82 million in improvements since last year's floods
Sewerage and Water Board says millions of dollars in improvements have been made. (FOX 8)

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - This Sunday marks one year since a major flood inundated dozens of homes, businesses and cars and led to a major shake up at the sewerage and water board.

Since that time the board  spent tens of millions of dollars and remains in the midst of a major shake up,

One year ago this Sunday dozens of homes, businesses and cars took on water New Orleans.

"We kept thinking it would stop, but it didn't stop. It started in the back and then came in from the front door," said Monique Robertson, who operates Muddy Paws Grooming and Sharpening on Broad St.

At least eight inches of rain fell in many parts of the city on Aug. 5, 2017, a day Robertson will never forget. She lost thousands of dollars in equipment that day and she was not alone.

At the time, former sewerage and water board leadership offered citizens assurances that the system was operating at capacity. Turns out those assurances were misleading.

Only one turbine was fully functioning, to power 148 pumps, and 18 of those were out of service.

"All 18 are repaired (and) six of those were here at Pump Station Six, and all those are back on line," said Joe Sensebe, with the board's interim management team.

The new leadership of the sewerage and water board Friday gave a tour of Pump Station Six on the parish line with Jefferson. It is the system's largest.

Now, pump operations can be monitored electronically and in real time. And the board's interim manager says all the pumps been repaired, and most of the  power generating turbines.

"We have big improvements in power, all four are on line...turbine 1 is offline at our discretion, with minor repairs," said Sensebe.

But those impacted by last year's floods, are skeptical.

"I'm not confident because I feel they keep outsourcing it," said Robertson.

Robertson says she never got a dime, for her losses, and she says to make matters worse, she's one of hundreds of customers who's water bills are in dispute.

"My bill is $2,000 when usually it's between 75 and 100," said Robertson.

In spite of continuing operational problems, frequent critics believe the 82 million dollars invested in new pumps and turbines, was money well spent.

"Let's just hope future generations have the same focus on how critical sewerage and drainage is, in a city that gets 60 inches a year," said civil engineer, H.J. Bosworth, with Levees.org.

It is a hope shared by many.

The sewerage and water board says it's also aggressively trying to fill some 500 vacant positions.  Last month, it says it hired 77 new employees.