With a vote of 5 for and 2 against, the New Orleans City Council passed legislation to increase the rates New Orleans residents pay to the Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) on Thursday.
“This legislation increases Sewerage and Water Board rates, but they will not double immediately,” said City Council President Jackie Clarkson in a speech just before the vote. “Rates will increase by 10 cents per year over 8 years.
“We now find ourselves in crisis. Due to our 300 year old water system and a lack of proper maintenance and investment, we’re leaking almost half – 40% of our water is lost. That alone will produce a savings. If we invest in this system, finally … through restricting the loss of water and infrastructure improvements, the rates will go down. The funds generated from the rate increase will help fund a $3.3 billion capital improvement program, to repair our crumbling infrastructure, ensure our water is up to EPA standards for health and safety. We must stop wasting money on patchy repairs.”
President Clarkson also alluded that the S&WB itself should be overhauled.
“We need to take politicians and political appointees off the board and put in experts such as engineers, accountants, scientists, water managements specialists and especially environmental scientists,” she said.