A $33.5 million project to construct a pair of 2-million gallon water towers in uptown New Orleans has reached the halfway mark, and the first tower is on track to come online this summer, according to New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board.
The two elevated storage tanks are designed to help mitigate boil-water advisories that result from surges of water pressure caused by a power loss at the city’s Carrollton Water Plant. Combined, the tanks will be able to hold 4 million gallons of water and provide uninterrupted water pressure for 40 minutes and continuous water service to the city in the event of a complete power loss. Standing at 202 ft, the tanks will tower over Uptown’s predominantly low-rise landscape.
Speaking earlier this year, former Sewerage & Water Board Executive Director Cedric S. Grant called the endeavor “one of the most significant water resilience projects undertaken in a generation.”
“The plants have been there for 100 years and have never had this kind of structure. The reason we need them now is to create additional resilience and sustainability for the water system,” Grant says.
The Sewerage & Water Board announced Grant’s retirement in August after admitting that some of the city’s pumps were not operating when heavy rains flooded parts of the city on Aug. 5. The board has also been the subject of public outcry because of the multiple boil water advisories the city has issued to residents in recent years.
B&K Construction LLC is building the towers, which were designed by Stanley Consultants Inc. The project is part the result of a six-year negotiation with FEMA and is part of a $48 million infrastructure investment by the federal agency to make the city’s water system more resilient.
Building water towers in the middle of an urban area presents some challenges, as does staging contractors for the multiple post-Katrina upgrades under way throughout the city, Sewerage & Water Board officials say. The city anticipates the tank on South Claiborne Avenue will be fully operational by July 2018 and the Panola Street tank will come online in March 2019. Construction began in November 2016.
“This is a real step forward in terms of this water utility continuing to operate during emergency situations such as hurricanes,” Grant said.