Filed Under:  Local

NOPA demands S&WB reform and calls for Mayor Landrieu to step down

25th September 2017   ·   0 Comments

By C.C. Campbell-Rock
Contributing Writer

As a result of a spate of S&WB malfunctions affecting the city’s water supply and an ever-present possibly of flooding, the New Orleans Peoples Assembly (NOPA) is calling for Sewerage & Water Board reforms and demanding the resignation of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The group’s reform plan for the embattled municipal water agency includes several action items. “Mayor Landrieu Step Down, Before We Drown,” is the group’s first demand. “We are demanding that Mitch resign immediately,” says Malcolm Suber, a principal organizer with the NOPA.

Landrieu was soundly criticized for the Aug. 5 flooding in the city due to inoperable pumps and clogged drains. Heads rolled at S&WB, while residents were plagued by thoughts of the devastating floods of during Hurricane Katrina, when the levees broke.

Some neighborhoods took on 18 to 24 inches of rain water, which caused damage to houses, businesses and vehicles. At the time, it was revealed that several pumps were not working and catch basins were clogged.

“We must realize that one of the fundamental duties of city government is to provide drainage. We know now that the S&WB and Department of Public Works (DPW) utterly failed to carry out this basic duty. Thousands of drains have not been cleaned out for decades. Essential equipment was left unprepared. Pumps were not repaired and many of them were not manned during rain storms,” the group said on its website.

“The municipal government is required to protect the people and must maintain safety in all operations. It’s a part of the social contract. Part of the city’s responsibility is to keep the pumps working and the drains clean,” Suber explains.

“Our mission is to provide safe drinking water to everyone in New Orleans; to remove waste water for safe return to the environment; to drain away storm water; to provide water for fire protection; to provide information about products and services; and to do all of this continuously at a reasonable cost to the community,” the S&WB posted on its website.

However, there is little evidence that the mission is being met. Problems with the city’s pumping system have continued to escalate. On August 9, a fire at a Claiborne Avenue pumping station damaged the turbine that powered a majority of the city’s East Bank pumping stations making residents susceptible to flooding, according to news reports.

This week east bank residents endured two days of a “boil water” advisory. “This precautionary boil water advisory was issued on Wednesday, September 20, when water pressure levels dropped below 15 psi to a power fluctuation at the Sewerage and Water Board Carrollton Plant which caused a momentary drop in water pressure,” S&WB reports.

Justice & Beyond, a community forum, has endorsed NOPA S&WB demands. J&B recently hosted a mayoral forum for candidates to discuss demands made by the New Orleans Peoples Assembly.

In addition to Landrieu’s resignation, the NOPA wants S&WB to be returned to city control; the establishment of a citizens’ oversight committee, unionization for employees, whistleblower protection, green and living water processing, a DBE policy, and a domicile requirement.

The NOPA is filing a class-action lawsuit against the City of New Orleans for damages suffered as a result of recent flooding. Those affected are invited to a meeting at Christian Unity Baptist Church, 1700 Conti Street, on 10/7/2017 at 6 p.m.

“We’ve been going door to door passing out claim forms,” adds Suber. Claimants can also go to and fill out a claim form or pick up a form at the NOFA office, 1418 N. Claiborne Avenue, or call (504) 218-8817.

This article originally published in the September 25, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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