Power Failure Blamed in New Orleans Water Issues

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On Sunday, Water pressure at the main gauge had never fallen below the state’s threshold of 15 pounds per square inch for boil advisories, but a precautionary notice was issued after hours of consultation with state Department of Health and Hospitals officials, city spokesman Ryan Berni wrote in an email.

A power problem in November 2010 also created similar conditions.

Across the city Sunday, some residents and businesses prepared water supplies to use under the boil advisory. At Zeus’ Place, a pet boarding and daycare business, owner Michelle Ingram said she was using bottled water for the 80 dogs and 7 cats there.

“We were sitting on 20 gallons of water and I just got 21 more,” she said. “Which should last us through tomorrow afternoon — and hopefully we’ll know then whether or not the boil water order is still on.”

In December 2010, after a brief power failure that did not require a boil water advisory, officials said that had been the fourth failure since the facility opened in 1903. All four were after Hurricane Katrina.

About $131 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has gone into work at the plant since Hurricane Katrina, St. Martin said.

She said the city is about to begin $141 million in post-Katrina work to improve and stabilize the power system with FEMA hazard mitigation grants.

The FEMA work will include installing water towers that could keep pressure high in the transmission pipes in case of a power failure. The city currently has only two, one in the farthest reaches of its west bank area and the other in eastern New Orleans.

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