The Eastbank of New Orleans had a boil water advisory this weekend. Those particular advisories have become more and more common in the Crescent City.
The cause of this weekend’s advisory was that the temperature was too cold.
The drop in water pressure in New Orleans early Saturday morning that led to a boil water advisory on the city’s East bank also exposed a weakness in the power generation capabilities of the Sewerage & Water Board: cold weather.
S&WB Executive Director Ghassan Korban said in a news conference Monday the power-generating turbine largely responsible for running the drinking water pumps will not work when temperatures drop below 45 degrees.
“It was designed really, as you know it was funded by FEMA, it was designed to function during the Hurricane season, the warmer season, and it did not have the safeguards, the specifications, to allow it to function all year round,” Korban said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built and paid for turbine 6 in 2014.
It is the newest of the agency’s power generating turbines and it produces a more modern type of power, 60Hz, that is used to run two of the pumps used to keep water pressure up in the pipes when usage drops.
A spokesman for the S&WB said the manufacturers specifications recommend not running the turbine in temperatures below 45 because it can cause ice crystals to form on the turbine blades, and that would have a “catastrophic impact.”
Just last week, Korban listed turbine 6 as “available” when making a presentation to the Board of Directors about the state of pumps and power operations. At the time of his remarks, turbine 6 was not online because the high temperature never climbed above 43 degrees in the metro area.
What ultimately did the city’s water system in this weekend was a car wreck. What happens when turbine 6 doesn’t run is that the city has to rely on Entergy to produce the power needed to keep the water pressure up. The power went out in the Carrollton area after a truck hit a power pole. The power loss affected the S&WB water treatment plant and essentially did in the city’s whole water system.
The more we learn about the S&WB, the more disgusted we become at it. The agency is a complete disaster, as is the infrastructure they oversee.