New Orleans' November boil water crisis caused by napping S&WB workers

Don Ames
January 10, 2019 - 7:43 pm

The New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board today disclosed why a boil water advisory needed to be issued for the entire east bank of New Orleans in November. 

The advisory was issued after a power outage caused several pumps to fail.  

S&WB Executive Director Ghassan Korban said Thursday that the advisory could have been avoided if two Sewerage & Water Board supervisors had not fallen asleep during their shifts.

The employees were critical to restoring water pressure to an acceptable level before too much time elapsed.

Until today, the S&WB had not given details on why the two employees, who have since resigned, did not respond fast enough when the pressure dropped.

The drop in water pressure began when a vehicle struck a nearby utility pole, knocking out power to the water plant.

The S&WB has determined that the two veteran employees could have switched to an alternate power source to operate a backup pump, but they were asleep.

"Beyond the reason for their absence, the most important issue is that they were not performing their duties during critical moments," S&WB Executive Director Ghassan Korban said in an email. "This is unacceptable."

The entire east bank of New Orleans was under a boil-water advisory for nearly two days.

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