Press Releases

SWBNO preparations for Sunday, April 7 thunderstorms

For Immediate Release: Sunday, April 7 2019

The Sewerage and Water Board’s (SWBNO) operations are preparing for heavy rains expected Sunday, April 7, beginning in the late afternoon and extending into the evening. The National Weather Service predicts heavy winds, severe thunderstorms and 1-3 inches of rainfall – with the potential for locally heavier amounts – throughout the New Orleans area.

The city’s drainage system has 115 out of 120 pumps available for service. The power interruptions that occurred during the rain event Thursday, April 4, were brief and were resolved that day. All pumps and electrical feeders impacted during Thursday's event are operational today.

Drainage operations will be fully staffed for each 8-hour shift throughout the storm. Another team of operators will be on call each shift to assist on-duty staff and to monitor unmanned stations and smaller pumps at underpasses. Out of an abundance of caution and desire to be overly prepared, SWBNO is deploying a larger team Sunday than what is typical during most rain events.

The five self-generating power turbines at the Carrollton Water Plant are available, as are the utility’s frequency changers, backup generators, and the five Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) generators purchased in late 2017 to add more redundant power supplies to SWBNO’s operations. This equipment can combine to produce about 80 megawatts (MW) of 25 Hz electrical power. It takes a total of 52 MW to run every pump in the city.

The extra power is a welcome layer of redundancy for a system using pumps and equipment that, in some cases, are more than a century old.

The water level in aboveground drainage canals may appear high at times as the system conveys storm water from other parts of the city or collects water from sudden heavy downpours. SWBNO responds to varying amounts of storm water that fall in different parts of the city by carefully synchronizing its pumps and power supply to meet the unique circumstances of each storm. Every rain event is different, and each requires a different response.

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