20K tons of junk to be cleared from New Orleans canals; Cantrell pleads for public’s cooperation | Local Politics

Toya Wentland

Seeking to calm a city frustrated by regular flooding during heavy rains, Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Thursday laid out her administration’s plans to deal with infrastructure issues through additional funding and increasing inspections of New Orleans’ ailing drainage system. At a City Hall press conference, Cantrell and her lieutenants provided updates on […]

Seeking to calm a city frustrated by regular flooding during heavy rains, Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Thursday laid out her administration’s plans to deal with infrastructure issues through additional funding and increasing inspections of New Orleans’ ailing drainage system.

At a City Hall press conference, Cantrell and her lieutenants provided updates on the areas where officials are inspecting underground pipes and culverts. They detailed plans for regularly cleaning out catch basins.

The mayor asked citizens to avoid dumping trash that could clog the system and again pitched the need for new funding sources to pay for maintenance.

Workers are in the process of cleaning out an estimated 20,000 or more tons of junk in city canals, officials said.

They want citizens to approve this fall a renewal and rededication of 3 mills of property tax for maintenance as well as the sale of $500 million in bonds.

The administration is also looking at a master plan and the potential for a drainage fee for New Orleans, Sewerage & Water Board Executive Director Ghassan Korban said.

“The only way I can really tell you what we need is to do a master plan,” Korban said. “Quantify every cost. Is the status quo acceptable? No. We will come back to you and talk to you as we devise that plan.”

The drainage system is made up of 72,000 catch basins, 1,500 miles of pipes and more than 48,000 manholes, said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Ramsey Green. He said officials have been looking at what’s happening under the streets and have “learned something” from “each one of these rain events.”

Over the past several months, a series of rainstorms flooded neighborhoods across the city. Some of the affected areas, like the Central Business District and parts of Uptown, haven’t traditionally seen street flooding, which has raised questions about whether there are hidden problems in the underground drainage system that is supposed to move water out of these and other areas.

Since her inauguration last year, Cantrell has been focused on infrastructure issues. As part of her push to address long-standing problems at the S&WB, she successfully lobbied for more money from the tourism industry to improve the city’s drainage and pumping systems.

More recently, she has begun a push to convince residents of the need to approve a bond issue and millage on the upcoming fall ballot.

“The city has never had a dedicated maintenance fund,” Cantrell said. “We will invest those dollars immediately in the city of New Orleans.”

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New Orleans officials detailed Tuesday (June 18) how they intend to spend money from a deal to bolster the city’s infrastructure finances, and…

Officials outlined more about how they plan to spend money from the “fair share” deal that Cantrell concluded with tourism leaders and the state.

The money will help the Department of Public Works hire 42 extra employees and fund more tasks to be brought in-house. It also will add five maintenance inspectors and 28 new pieces of equipment, including vacuum trucks, pothole patchers, dump trucks, excavators, pick-ups and trailers.

“We are owning our responsibilities and seamlessly working together,” Cantrell said. “It’s a shared responsibility. We’re not being reactive because we’re doing the work every single day and have been doing it every single day since I’ve been in office.”

Cantrell asked citizens to do their part by cleaning up the city and dumping trash appropriately. Someone recently dumped three boats on Martin Luther King Boulevard, she said.

“You can’t make it up,” she said. “It’s present. It’s there.”



Mangled car pulled from New Orleans canal was reported lost in Katrina, documents show

Questions remain about the crushed car that was pulled from one of New Orleans’ underground drainage canals last week, but authorities at leas…

After a mangled car was pulled from a New Orleans canal last month, officials said they would take a deeper look at the underground pipes and canals serving the CBD, which has recently experienced repeated flooding.

The vehicle was reported lost in Hurricane Katrina. Its discovery 14 years later in the Lafitte Canal raised questions about how little maintenance or inspection was done following the storm.

Crews have removed about 500 tons of junk from that canal, including parts of a second car, a truck bed and a sofa. There are still 20,000 tons of junk in the canal, Korban said Thursday.

As rain fell in sheets across New Orleans on Monday afternoon, Sewerage & Water Board Executive Director Ghassan Korban was, like many oth…

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