Sewerage & Water Board director: Key improvements in works to prevent future boil-water advisories in New Orleans _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- A boil water advisory has been issued for New Orleans' east bank

?Update 12:20 p.m. Thursday: Sewerage & Water Board director Cedric Grant said Thursday afternoon that samples from 90 water treatment locations are being incubated, and results are expected Friday morning. Until then, the boil-water advisory will remain for the east bank of Orleans Parish.

Grant said a power failure occurred at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, and power was restored about 20 minutes later.

A key improvement is in the works for the S&WB in the form of a pair of water towers, known as a "water hammer," that will keep the system pressurized during an outage, Grant said. Construction will start next year.

“I can't warranty that nothing will ever happen ever again," Grant said, adding the goal is to make S&WB as self-sufficient and self-reliant as possible.

Grant also said S&WB is also working with Entergy on the problem.

“Something happened, and it wasn’t just in the four walls of this plant,” he said.

Update, 10 a.m. Thursday: The Sewerage & Water Board said the Department of Health and Hospitals is testing water samples and will have the results in 24 hours. Until then, the boil-water advisory is still is effect.

Judging from that timeframe, the earliest the advisory will be lifted is sometime Friday morning.

Original story

A precautionary boil-water advisory was issued Wednesday night for the entire east bank of Orleans Parish.

The Sewerage & Water Board advised all customers to boil tap water for one full minute before using it for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, or preparing or rinsing food. When bathing or showering, people should be careful not to swallow water.

The advisory was sent out in an alert about 9 p.m.

S&WB Executive Director Cedric Grant said two pumps at the Carrollton water purification plant lost power shortly after 8 p.m., and pressure dropped below 15 pounds per square inch at 14 of the system’s 18 pumping stations. That is the level that triggers a boil-water advisory until testing can determine whether any harmful bacteria have made their way into the water supply due to low pressure in the pipes.

Grant said his agency is consulting with Entergy New Orleans officials on what might have caused a loss of power to the water plant.

This is the second time in three months the city has been put under such a notice. In July, electrical issues at the Carrollton plant led to an advisory that lasted about 31 hours.

The agency, which in that case did not put out an advisory until several hours after pressure dropped to potentially unsafe levels, was criticized by City Council members and residents for its slow response.

The S&WB did not immediately release information Wednesday night on how long the boil-water advisory will last, but testing to ensure the water is safe typically takes 24 to 36 hours.