Tuesday, March 5, 2013

update: 3-5-3013 What is pouring faster? Money or water? Louisiana Water Pressure Reported Across New Orleans.

updated 3-5-3013

Power failure blamed in New Orleans water issues

Officials say a boiler-room power failure at the plant supplying electricity to the city's treatment plant is to blame for a temporary loss of water pressure.
The Sunday morning incident may have opened the way for water contamination. Officials are advising residents on the Mississippi River's east bank to boil drinking water while samples from across the city are tested.
Most of New Orleans, including the French Quarter and Central Business District, is on the east bank.
Tap water was flowing again within an hour of the incident. The problem started about 9 a.m. Central time Sunday.
Engineers are investigating what caused the power failure. It takes at least 24 hours to tell whether there are potentially dangerous bacteria in the water.

This is what is happening with the Louisiana water pressure issue...this is all of the information that is out there, which leads me to believe that one of the past issues (which I will include afterward) is to blame...ASK THE QUESTION...WHAT HAPPENED TO THE "The $34 million project ($390 MILLION RELEASED IN NOVEMBER 2011 FOLLOWING Mayor Mitch Landrieu wrote a letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal asking for money for power plant repairs) is commissioned by the Army Corps of Engineers and will provide the S&WB with 15-mega watt back up power generation." REPORTED IN OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR AND WHAT ABOUT THE  "The federal government released an additional $390 million in November 2011 when the feds acknowledged that the state should get more Hazard Mitigation money (grants to strengthen infrastructure against future storms) under a FEMA formula for Hurricane Katrina and Rita aid."

Loss of water pressure reported across New Orleans

Posted: Mar 3, 2013 10:24 AM by Associated Press 
NEW ORLEANS - Widespread loss of water pressure has been reported in New Orleans, and the city is advising residents in a large swath of the city boil their water.

The city said in a statement Sunday morning that Sewerage & Water Board officials were still working to determine the cause of the loss of water pressure at the S&WB Power Plant.

The statement said the boil water advisory is in effect for all of the East Bank of Orleans Parish until further notice from the city.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu tweeted Sunday morning: "Widespread loss of water pressure reported. We are looking into it the matter."


Water pressure falls across sections of New Orleans, city issues boil-water alert

Water outage hits metro area

(Gallery by Michael DeMocker, and the Times-Picayune)

By Andrew Vanacore, | The Times-Picayune 
on March 03, 2013 at 9:33 AM, updated March 03, 2013 at 11:56 AM

New Orleans issued a boil-water alert for the east bank on Sunday after residents across the city woke up to a drop in water pressure caused by a power outage, the second time in less than six months that a mechanical problem has stirred fears of contaminated water. 

Residents took to Twitter immediately with reports from Uptown to St. Roch and elsewhere that the pressured had dipped some time around 9 a.m. and then, in many places, came back. 

Mayor Mitch Landrieu jumped on Twitter as well, saying, "Widespread loss of water pressure reported. We are looking into it the matter." 

The mayor and officials from the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board have scheduled a press conference for 1 p.m. on Sunday to discuss the issue. 

The last time the city's aging pipes experienced trouble was back in October, when the agency issued a boil-water alert that lasted about 25 hours after a drop in pressure raised the possibility of contamination. In that case, the dip in pressure was caused by a glitch at the agency's South Carrollton Avenue power plant, apparently the same issue that came up Sunday. 

In a statement, city officials said "an interruption in the boiler room at the Sewerage & Water Board Power plant" cut the power temporarily at around 9 a.m., causing water pressure to drop below what the federal government considers safe.

The city is recommending that residents boil their water for a minute and let it cool down before "drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, bathing or preparing food." 

Boiled water is not necessary for other household purposes, according to the city, although some important caveats apply: "Bathing or showering should be avoided by people with open wounds or who are immune-compromised," and for anyone who does hop in the bath, "minimize the time spent in the water and be sure to keep your eyes and mouth closed."
The alert will remain in effect for at least 24 hours. 

For businesses across the city, that means another frustrating interval of improvising their way around tap water. At the Ruby Slipper, a popular brunch spot with three different locations around town, employees began using bottled water for coffee and boiled water for the dirty dishes.

"The one thing you should be able to depend on from the municipality is that you have water," said owner Eric Weishaupt. "It's silly, but we're doing what we can." 

Federal regulations say a boil-water alert must be issued whenever pressure in the city's water pipes falls below 15 pounds per square inch from a normal psi of 68, a threshold the city crossed briefly on Sunday. If the pressure falls too low, there's a possibility that bacteria could find its way into the system. 

Of course, officials are already well aware that the city's sewage and water system is in dire need of upgrades. Back in December the New Orleans City Council voted to impose a steep increase in residents' monthly water bills. The hike is expected to bring in $583 million in revenue to pay for infrastructure repairs and a bigger staff tending to the city's pipes. 


past issues below

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu wins latest round to reform the Sewerage & Water Board updated February 20, 2013

New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board work leads to low water pressure in Uptown

on February 08, 2013 at 11:28 AM, updated February 08, 2013 at 11:38 AM

A crew for the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board is doing some repair work in the Garden District area, leading to low water pressure in the Uptown neighborhood, S&WB spokesman Robert Jackson said.
Residents began reporting low water pressure shortly after 9:30 Friday morning. More information on the repair work will be forthcoming, Jackson said. Check back with


S&WB power plant has been issue for city, state since 2010 boil water order

Posted on October 8, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 8 at 6:45 PM


NEW ORLEANS -- After boil water orders were issued in New Orleans in November 2010, Mayor Mitch Landrieu wrote a letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal asking for money for power plant repairs.

In the letter from February 2011, Landrieu called repairs to the water system power plant "an urgent public health issue given the necessity to issue ‘boil water’ notices in November during one of its failures."

“Here in New Orleans, we need $200 million to repair the Sewer & Water Board's power plant, which in nearly 100 years of operation has failed only four times -- all since Hurricane Katrina," Landrieu wrote.

Landrieu got the money he asked for, but it hasn't been used yet. The federal government released an additional $390 million in November 2011 when the feds acknowledged that the state should get more Hazard Mitigation money (grants to strengthen infrastructure against future storms) under a FEMA formula for Hurricane Katrina and Rita aid.

It was a coup for New Orleans, which got $270 million of the $390 million. Mayoral spokesman Ryan Berni said $8.4 million was set aside for making a New Orleans East hospital resistant to a 500-year storm.

And $141 million was set aside for improvements to the Sewerage & Water Board power plant and water intake system.

“Those are in the queue for final approvals and obligation,” Berni said.

He said the city is considering other Sewerage and Water Board related projects and improvements to other city facilities with the remaining $120 million.


S&WB testing backup generator at Carrollton plant, may cause loud noises

Posted on October 22, 2012 at 11:25 AM Updated Wednesday, Oct 24 at 7:01 AM

A newly installed, very large turbine engine will be tested, and it may or may not be louder than the normal noise level emanating from the plant, the board said.

The engine is in a sound weakening enclosure, which is inside of a building designed to reduce noise levels, the S&WB said.

However, the sounds may be different from what residents are accustomed to hearing, the board said.

The $34 million project is commissioned by the Army Corps of Engineers and will provide the S&WB with 15-mega watt back up power generation.

The hope is that boil water advisories, like the one that occurred in the beginning of October, can be avoided.
The testing is scheduled to begin at or after 9 a.m. Wednesday and continue for 30 days.

Anyone with questions or concerns should call 52WATER (529-2837.)


Water pressure dropped when turbine failed at S&WB power plant

on December 23, 2010 at 12:51 AM, updated December 23, 2010 at 10:25 AM

An electrical problem triggered the failure late Wednesday of one of four massive turbines that fuel the Sewerage & Water Board's in-house power plant, causing water pressure to plummet across the east bank of Orleans Parish, a top agency official said.

s&wb_water_meter_cover.jpgView full size
But unlike last month, when asimilar equipment crash led to a 41-hour boil-water advisory, the latest problem was resolved in a half-hour because a key backup pump that was under repair in November was available and switched on within minutes, S&WB General Superintendent Joe Becker said.

Algiers is served by a separate water purification plant and was not affected.

While the backup pump allowed water pressure to remain at safe levels, averting another boil-water incident, the turbine failure caused the S&WB's in-house power plant to shut down for about two hours.

It was only the fourth failure since the facility - among New Orleans' most critical infrastructure - opened at the turn of the 20th century. All four shutdowns have occurred since Hurricane Katrina.

The S&WB power plant produces an uncommon frequency of electricity known as 25-Hertz, also called 25-cycle, that drives the motors that run about half the city's drinking water system, namely giant pumps that suck raw water from the Mississippi River and smaller pumps that send purified water into the underground pipe network. The water purification plant, meanwhile, runs on power purchased from Entergy New Orleans.

In-house power also supports about half the city's drainage capacity via 115 miles of underground conduit, including lines that run under the river. The buried wires run from the power plant at South Claiborne Avenue near the Jefferson Parish line to many of the city's 23 drainage pump stations.
The power plant generates electricity by running tap water through enormous boilers, which create steam to run four turbines that produce 25-cycle power. Natural gas purchased from Entergy is used to start boilers and turbines, which run singly or in tandem depending on how much power the system needs.

Once the equipment is up and running, it relies on self-generated steam and a series of natural gas feeds to stay online.

Meanwhile, the S&WB has eight pumps located at three outflow stations on the South Claiborne Avenue campus to send purified drinking water out to customers. The pumps maintain water pressure at about 65 pounds per square inch, a level that keeps potentially sickening bacteria from infiltrating pipes; when pressure drops below 15 psi, health officials advise residents to boil water before using it to drink, cook or bathe.

On Wednesday night, one turbine was in operation, as were four outflow pumps: one powered directly by steam from the boilers, two that run on 25-cycle power generated by the turbines and one powered by electricity from Entergy, Becker said.

When the turbine broke at 8:29 p.m., it shut down the two 25-cycle pumps immediately, he said.
The first line of defense against such a failure is a key backup pump that can run using 25-cycle power or electricity provided by Entergy, Becker said. When the power plant failed last month, that pump was out of service, forcing S&WB engineers to rely on other options that took several hours to put into place.
By that time, water pressure had dropped to 10 psi, triggering a boil-water advisory.

By last week, however, the dual-frequency pump had been repaired, Becker said. So when the power plant failed Wednesday night, S&WB officials were able to flip it on within 20 minutes using Entergy power.

During that period, water pressure dropped - but only to 25 psi, safely above the boil-water threshold - Becker said, adding that S&WB officials nevertheless contacted state Department of Health and Hospitals personnel shortly after the power plant failed.

With the backup pump running, along with the steam-driven pump and the one that ordinarily runs on Entergy power, normal water pressure was restored by 9 p.m., he said.

Meanwhile, S&WB crews got two of the remaining three turbines online by 10:30 p.m., restoring in-house power.

As for the fated turbine, it appears that an internal electrical malfunction cause it to fail, Becker said. Though officials plan to meet today at 8:30 a.m. to review the precise reason for the shutdown, it's likely that copper wire necessary to run the machine will have to be "rewound," a two- to three-month process that must be handled off-site by a contractor, he said.

Such work amounts to routine maintenance, "but we just haven't been able to afford to take this turbine for rewinding," Becker said.

Residents across the east bank reported low water pressure starting around 8:30 p.m., and subscribers to City Hall's emergency alert text and e-mail service,, got a notice at 9:22 p.m., about the problem at the power plant.
Spokesmen for the S&WB and Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration issued news releases about the situation at 10:25 p.m., and a final notice went out at 10:47 p.m. advising that normal water pressure "has been restored."

The notices arrived at a far faster pace than last month, when it took several hours for officials to confirm why water pressure had plummeted around 10:30 p.m. on a Friday night. It wasn't until after 8 a.m. on Saturday that the first e-mail and text alerts went out.
Becker credited the faster communication in part with a new protocol implemented in recent weeks that calls for S&WB personnel to contact administration officials at their homes - and to dispatch police officers to rouse them, if necessary - when problems occur at night.

"We had a lot more phone numbers," he said. "In the past, we had cell phones and Blackberry. But tonight we had more home phone numbers, and we were able to contact using home phone lines."
The latest problem also occurred earlier than last month's disruption, making it easier to reach Landrieu aides, he said.

Landrieu administration officials who were "in close contact" with S&WB officials throughout Wednesday's incident included Deputy Mayors Cedric Grant, Jerry Sneed and Emily Sneed Arata, as well as Communications Director Devona Dolliole and Press Secretary Ryan Berni, S&WB spokesman Robert Jackson said.

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