New Orleans — A boil-water advisory the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board issued for the east bank of Orleans Parish on Monday was lifted Tuesday, much to the relief of residents, businesses and parents of school-age children inconvenienced by the precautionary measure.
The utility issued the advisory after its main plant on South Claiborne Avenue lost power for about three minutes Monday morning, causing pressure in its pipes to drop to 20 psi. A pressure reading of 15 psi or below is cause for immediate concern about the possibility of bacteria growing in the water supply.
Bacteriological test results returned Tuesday by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals showed the water was safe to drink, Marcia St. Martin, executive director of the S&WB, said in a prepared statement.
Sewerage & Water Board officials advised residents and businesses to flush their internal and external plumbing by running water for several minutes.
“We are pleased that the test proved negative and that we can cancel the boil water advisory at this time,” St. Martin said in her statement. “We issued the advisory in the best interests of our customers and with an abundance of caution to ensure their health and safety.”
Around the city on Monday and Tuesday, businesses changed their operations to comply with the advisory or, in some cases, closed.
It was business as usual at Le Bon Temps Roule in the 4800 block of Magazine Street while the advisory was in effect, according to manager Joe Bikulege.
Bartenders turned off the ice machine after the advisory was issued and served only pre-packaged ice. Customers who asked for water had only the option of buying bottles of the liquid.
Coincidentally, a bartender had posted a quotation Monday praising the merits of alcohol over water, before the advisory was issued.
“There is wisdom in wine. There is freedom in beer. There is bacteria in water,’’ the hand-written note said.
“If she does it again, we’ll have her pick the lottery numbers,’’ Bikulege said.
The advisory also meant an unexpected day off for some schoolchildren. All schools directly run by the Orleans Parish School Board and several affiliated charter schools canceled classes Tuesday.
Classes were to resume today.
The Claiborne Avenue plant lost power about 8:30 a.m. Monday while workers were doing preventative maintenance on two of the boilers that run the 25-cycle power supply, an archaic in-house power system that runs the plant that keeps the city’s water supply and sewer systems functioning.
St. Martin said the plant has not functioned at full capacity since Hurricane Katrina flooded it in 2005.
In February 2011, Mayor Mitch Landrieu requested $200 million from Gov. Bobby Jindal in hazard mitigation funds to begin repairs.
In a letter to Jindal, Landrieu noted that in nearly 100 years of operation, the plant failed only four times — all after Katrina.
While FEMA awarded the Sewerage & Water Board $12.5 million, the agency is still waiting for $141 million to complete the work. The city is in the process of working with FEMA, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to approve and obligate that money.
Kari Dequine Harden
contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved