The New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board will start $350 million worth of construction and improvements to the city's sewer system in 2015. Work will include repairs and upgrades to drainage canals, pumping stations, pipes and outdated power supply stations.
New Orleans' sewerage and water system is more than 115 years old and loses up to 40% of its drinking water through leaks and broken pipes. The system has a number of deteriorating pump stations, along with sinking lines that create potholes in streets. There are also damaged wastewater lines that have been allowing sewerage to seep into the water table.
A 1998 consent decree from the Environmental Protection Agency put the city under orders to fix many parts of its aging system and bring it in line with the Clean Water Act. New Orleans sought extended deadlines and entered into a third modified consent decree in July 2014, which called for completing all repairs and upgrades by 2025.
New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board Executive Director Cedric Grant told WWL-TV in December 2014 that everything that is "old and broken" will be replaced in the coming years.
"We are doing more work in New Orleans than we've done since WWII. We are actually rebuilding the city block by block," he said.
The board estimates that it will cost more than $3 billion to repair and replace the entire system over the next ten years. Many of the projects will be managed in conjunction with the city's Public Works department.
Grant says they have designated 25 projects for 2015, compared to an annual average of 10 projects. This year's spending plan includes $159 million for water system projects, $87 million for the sewer system and $11 million for power supply projects for pumping stations.