New Orleans City Council President Jason Williams, who also chairs the council's Utility Committee, has called a a special meeting tomorrow to discuss last weekend's boil-water advisory on the East Bank of New Orleans — and the Sewerage & Water Board's response to the issue.
The advisory was issued Friday, July 24 at 10 a.m., about seven hours after a power surge at the S&WB's Carrollton plant fell below 15 pounds per square inch, which is considered an unsafe level. The advisory was issued after many residents had awoken, had coffee, brushed their teeth, showered and gone to work — and it continued throughout the day and evening, forcing businesses to use bottled water or find workarounds. After an initial press conference about the advisory, the city was silent, providing no updates as the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals tested samples.
On Saturday morning, 24 hours after the event, City Hall sent out an email saying that water samples still were being tested. Then officials went silent again. During that time, Gambit
was unable to reach anyone at the S&WB's 24-hour hotline; the city's 311 line went to a recording; and the city website was not updated.
Moreover, @NOLAReady, the city's emergency preparedness Twitter account, updated on the situation once in the morning and then was silent until the advisory was lifted. Another Twitter account, @SWBNOLA, to which people had been tweeting their complaints and concerns, was deleted July 25 in the midst of the advisory, though city officials question whether that was an official account. (Brad Howard, an aide to Mayor Mitch Landrieu, says the only account to carry official S&WB news is @NOLAReady. "We coordinate all emergency and critical information during @NOLAReady," Howard told Gambit
The advisory lasted 31 hours, during which the city issued exactly three press releases (one at the beginning, one on Saturday morning and one at the end).