‘I’m raising a red flag’: Mayor says new drainage system has to be city’s priority

NEW ORLEANS -- Mayor Mitch Landrieu met today with the Sewerage and Water Board for one last time before his term ends May 7.

The August 5 floods consumed most of their conversation.

The mayor called it a traumatic event that revealed the city’s vulnerability and a lack of investment and infrastructure. Some of the S&WB's equipment is more than 100 years old.

While they have made major improvements to the city's drainage system and are now capable of handling a major power outage or flooding event, the city still needs a new drainage system, Landrieu told the board.

He estimated on the low-end that could cost the city $600 million. If they wanted to build a fortress against flooding, they’d need at least $60 billion.

He says this has to happen immediately.

"I’m raising a red flag on this," Landrieu said, "This has to take priority over any other thing that we are doing in the City of New Orleans. I love the Superdome, the jail, the playgrounds, but this is a matter of priority now and, to me, this is the number one priority for the city."

The mayor also touted that there have been more than 200 massive projects in every neighborhood in the city, creating thousands of jobs.

He also said $150 million were spent on updating the Carrollton power plant. They’re building two new water towers —200 feet tall — which should come online over the next two years. They’ll hold 4 millions gallons of water. This will help prevent boil wateradvisories.

They also said that they’re working on resetting salaries for their workers, and national recruitment efforts are underway for an executive director. They also extended the interim director’s contract.