NEW ORLEANS - Today, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) announced an action plan to expedite its transition away from self-generated steam power, and bring the Carrollton Water Plant and its operations up to modern standards.
The multi-tiered plan will increase efficiency, provide significant annual cost-savings, and provide another layer of protection to the City’s drinking water.
While examining the steam equipment last fall, crews discovered that the 106-year-old turbine generator systems use potable water to condense steam after it is used to run generate electricity. That potable water used for cooling steam is then returned to the drinking water system.
The drinking water remains safe to use, and the SWBNO continues to regularly test the water quality throughout the City. Nevertheless, this cooling system, known as a cross connection, is unacceptable by modern utility standards.
The SWBNO is committed to addressing this issue and keeping its customers informed at every step of the way. The utility’s leadership has proactively reported the condition of the cross connection to the Louisiana Department of Health. A formal citation of “significant deficiency” from LDH is expected soon, but SWBNO is not waiting to make important improvements.
“Let me be clear, our drinking water is safe to use,” SWBNO Executive Director Korban said. “This condition has existed for more than 100 years and haven’t had an issue. But we’re not satisfied. If anything, the discovery of the cross connection speeds up what I have been saying for some time now: we need to move away from a culture of repair and start to replace this outdated equipment.”
The SWBNO is also undertaking other proactive steps. They include:
- Increased water quality testing within the Carrollton Water Plant to better protect the drinking water supply before it is distributed. These new tests will be above LDH’s requirements.
- Primarily using Turbine 5, which uses considerably less drinking water than all other steam equipment, rather than Turbine 4, which uses the most drinking water to cool steam.
- Converting steam water pumps to electrical motors.
The long term vision is to eliminate steam power all together. It costs significantly less to use modern-day energy sources, including gas and diesel generators already on site, and to purchase additional power from Entergy.
The full transition, however, will be dependent on available future funding resources.
SWBNO Board President Mayor LaToya Cantrell said, “There is a large investment in this utility that has to be made and money, quite frankly, that we don’t have. We’re not asking the public for anything. To those agencies, particularly that get a majority of resources, if some of them were redirected toward infrastructure, we would be in a much better place. We’re going to need an infusion of additional resources, which speaks to where we want to go in the future. That will benefit everybody.”
SWBNO Board President Pro-Temp Dr. Tamika Duplessis said, “The Board of Directors would like to commend Executive Director Ghassan Korban for his leadership and proactive approach to the issues we face. We also would like to acknowledge the expediency in which the information was brought forward and the continuance of placing the quality of drinking water as our foremost priority."
SWBNO Director Alejandra Guzman said, “I applaud Executive Director Ghassan Korban and the rest of his team for going above and beyond to assure that our community is well informed on SWBNO critical issues. Also, it is very evident that there is a clear vision of what is required to move this utility forward and that there are concise actions being taken to move us in the right direction.”
City of New Orleans Department of Health Director Dr. Jen Avegno said, "Based on all of the information that we’ve been provided, our drinking water is safe to consume. That is the upmost priority for the Department of Health and the City as a whole.We’re committed, as always, to maintain the highest standards of health and safety.”
Please find attached the Exectutive Director's PowerPoint presentation.
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