DPW: ‘Changes will be made to catch basin maintenance program’

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NEW ORLEANS – From turbine fires and failures to non-operational pumps, the Department of Public Works and the Sewerage & Water Board have been under intense scrutiny since the August 5 floods.

The City Council has been holding budget hearings this week and looked over the DPW’s proposal Thursday.

DPW Interim Head Dani Holloway told WGNO that they’re still analyzing the catch basin maintenance program for 2018, and will have updated numbers in November.

Currently, the department’s budget does not include a revised plan for cleaning catch basins or increased spending for emergency repairs, including the DPW’s goal is to clean 4,500 of the 65,000 catch basins next year.

Holloway says that number will be adjusted, taking into consideration the recent problems with the drainage system. The department just needs time to come up with specific numbers, she said.

The mayor has held a number of press conferences about the problems.

The city approved $22 million in funding to clean and repair affected catch basins before the end of this year, with $7 million going towards cleaning those 15,000 catch basins, $14 million budgeted for 7,500 repairs and $350,000 for a city fleet of vacuum trucks that should come in 2018.

The DPW also increased their work week from five to six days and added two extra hours to each work day.

All of these changes are affecting the 2017 budget. The 2018 budget still needs to be worked out.

The Sewerage and Water Board manages the pumps, turbines, major equipment, manpower — the main operations. The Department of Public Works covers catch basins and minor drainage pipes, which equates to roughly 65,000 catch basins and 8.2 million feet of drainage lines.

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