New Orleans Residents Have Been Drinking Untreated Water Used To Cool Steam Turbines

New Orleans’s Sewerage & Water Board has been cycling untreated water used to cool steam turbines into the drinking water supply for over a century. The procedure, which has been recently uncovered by the S&WB is in violation of state health regulations. It is yet another black eye for the beleaguered agency.

From WWL-TV:

The Sewerage & Water Board on Tuesday said it recently discovered that for the last century, it has used clean drinking water to cool its steam-powered turbines, then returned the cooling water to the drinking water system without re-treating it.

S&WB Executive Director Ghassan Korban said the public was never at risk and the city’s drinking water is safe. The drinking water that’s been used to cool the steam never leaves a closed system of tubes and coils as it passes through steam-powered turbine generators that produce electricity for the city’s water and drainage pumps, Korban said.

But cross-connections like that are prohibited by state health regulations — regulations established long after New Orleans started using the process.

Korban said nobody realized the S&WB was violating that until looking recently at how to replace steam power, and they self-reported the violation to the Louisiana Department of Health.

The findings were announced during a special meeting at the S&WB headquarters Tuesday morning, a few hours before a recent boil water advisory was lifted.

The S&WB has documented problems with people napping on the job. But taking a century-long nap on an issue of vital importance such as drinking water is a new one for the agency.

Will the S&WB face penalties from the state for violating state law? My guess is probably not. Then again, when has the agency ever been held accountable?

The S&WB is still an agency that can’t get out of its own way. Perhaps it’s time for New Orleans to start over with a new agency in charge of water, sewerage, and drainage. It certainly can’t do any worse than the S&WB.

Interested in more news from Louisiana? We've got you covered! See More Louisiana News
Previous Article
Next Article

 

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.