The Sewerage & Water Board seems to just be lying, and lying, and lying, and…

By Kenneth Cooper

A storm comes, parts of the city flood, in the aftermath the press has questions: how’d those pumps hold up? The SW&B be like, everything was A-okay operationally. The pumps did the best they could, under the circumstances.

Two days later, skepticism swirls, questions abound, then an admission begins as follows: “well what had happened was…”

And so, it has gone, over, and over, and, over, and…

Let’s look back. Remember two Augusts ago, when parts of the city flooded and the SW&B was like, all pumps were operational, blame the flooding on climate change, but then we find out that 14 pumps, 8 of which were directly involved with draining the area that flooded, were offline?

And remember earlier this year when the SW&B said it was short on cash and how it needed an influx, or it’d have to raise fees to cover its losses? Well what had happened was about a month later it found $25 million sitting in two accounts.  

Remember about two weeks ago when thunder rolled, lightning struck, and rain rained down on the city, and people woke up to flooded streets, and water seeping into some homes and businesses? Yeah, the SW&B was like, besides two pumps all other pumps were A-okay operational, just another of those 100-year climate change induced storms that would’ve flooded any city.


A week later, in front of the City Council, that official line changed to: “well what had happened was…”

What had happened was that two pumps were offline due to lightning, two others due to electrical issues, and another one had to shut down because a canal was too full to pump any more water into it. None of those pumps, per the SW&B, would’ve put a dent in the water that was pooling in the streets. Maybe, at best, they would’ve sucked out an inch or two – so we are told, an example of – please disregard that statement we made earlier, this here, though, this is the truth.

The SW&B seems to be one of those rare organizations where misinformation transcends boards of directors, executive directors, mayors, city councils, seasons, or any attempt to regulate it and hold it accountable. Or maybe this is just too narrow a view. Maybe the executive director actually didn’t know about the other pumps that failed until after the initial statement was released.

Maybe it’s all just a misunderstanding (it happens). Maybe this has more to do with a complex organization trying to provide instant information to a wary public. Maybe they should wait until all the facts are known before making any statements.

Maybe, just maybe.  

Maybe going forward, the executive director or any spokesperson should preface statements with the qualifying phrase: As far as we know…

Either that or they can deliver a statement live and attached to a lie detector machine.

In a city where some houses are still marked with Katrina’s Xs and water lines, you’d think drainage would be something the city made sure citizens had full faith and confidence in. Yet catch basins are clogged with enough debris and beads to fill a Mardi Gras float. When the rain falls citizens can’t be sure if all pumps are operational or if the operators are awake, being rushed to the hospital, or asleep. Previous mayors were judged by crime and how their police departments handled it.

This mayor, it seems, will ultimately be judged, not just by crime, but more so by how her SW&B manages to keep the water and lies from flooding the city.

6 thoughts on “More “What Had Happened Was”- from The SW&B”
  1. Just like kids- “What had had happened is, you see the dog bit the cat, then…

    LBRC- Here’s a Newsflash! NOLA Floods!!! Question? A highly “Competent” plus “Out of Town” new “Chief Executive” is hired (Obviously, life long NOLA “Competent” Engineers  must be incompetent to meet “Flooding Challenges”? “King’s English” not quite up to code? Whatever! Now let’s see…

    1. This “New” Chief S&WB “Out of Town Hire” has weathered several “Flooding Episodes”! What happened? Has flooding abated? Ans. NO!!! Alright… 

    2. Before their hire, this New Leader had to know and comprehend New Orleans’ vulnerability to “Flooding”, otherwise, it was a “Dog and Pony Show”! But’s let’s be fair- S&WB can’t be fixed in a day, probably not in …, but? Has anybody seen “The Long Term Plan” for “Flooding Abatement”, other than- “You Need an Entirely New System”!!! This is what the new Chief said? 

    3. Thought Experiment Time, right?

    a. You own a home. It’s falling apart- your roof, plumbing, electrical not withstanding your grass requires cutting! You hire an “Out of Town” so- called expert to assist you. They take one look and say, “You Need a New House”! You wish?

    b. A neighbor takes a look and says- “1st Let’s Cut Your Grass”! Next, we’ll at least “Blue Tarp” your roof or at least patch it as you can afford too! Then we’ll replace plumbing pipes 1 to 1 as funds become available and yada…,- Are you getting a picture now?  (We’re referring to literate citizens, not the #50 in a Class of 50 Crowd”, sorry?).

    4. What is “Competence”?

    a. Webster says? noun 1 : a sufficiency of means for the necessities and conveniences of life <provided his family with a comfortable competence.

    b. Kids need of competent parents! Competent Parents "Provide" necessities and conveniences at "The Minimum" for Dependents, kids and/or adults. Competent Parents don't say- "You Need a new Dad, Mom or Guardian"! Unfortunately, some turn to criminality to provide due to Social Pressures!

    b. On Systems? S&WB is a "System"!!! How do you say- "All the Pumps are working" without an "Initial" examination of where "Systemic Failures" are which might impede "Pumping Capacities" 'Dat keep the city dry? Archimedes Screws are great but, Duh?

    5. Okay Madam Mayor, all eyes on you now! This is "Your" outside hire. You're the S&WB President! We demand "Competence" (See Definition), not excuses! Do we need a "New" Chief or a "New" Mayor? We just 'Sayin…, "We are not Sycophants or Media "Worker Bees" posting "Light Weight" or low intellectual paradigms aka SOBS aka Standard Operational Bull S#*^ or intellectual analysis crap!!!

    b. Madam Mayor is Christian, right? Scrioture says? "A loud rebuke is better than silent praise"! However, it's time for results Madam Mayor! aka an We need an "Accounting" of funds and what you'll fix in the meantime 'Dat we know about needs 'fixin!

    6. LBRC has lots of previous NOLA Board Experience- We operated differently! 

    a. Competent Incoming Board Presidents "Always" get an accounting and "Funds on Hand"! You can't or shouldn't spend what you do not have, period end of sentence!!! If funds were stolen or "misspent" by a previous team? Time to call in the DA or Federal Authorities and make those responsible make restitution! Malfeaseance operates in many forms! Politicos enjoy spending tax dollars not theirs, Duh? Indictments?

    b. At least 7- 10% of NOLA "get it"! Dat's a start! 10% of 300k is 30k! You can win an election with 'Dat Margin, betcha they vote and are honest! Peace Out..

    1. Was I dreaming or did I see the name for the head of The Sewerage & Water Board is Rainwater?
      I’d love to meet the writer who writes the comedy scripts for NOLA Politics.
      And I’m not being facetious.

  2. Disrespect!!!, ever heard of that? This city is ran on it. And “outtatown” mayor who don’t know jack!!! Hires an outtatown executive director that don’t know jack, and a appointed Board STEALING!!!,and the news media hardest question: “Are ya’ll gonna start ticketing drivers who drive through flooded streets!!!”[Travis Mackrel] Men & Women who been here 30 & 40 yrs get overlooked for the position, and the consequences will be Lives Lost!!!! The responsibility lies on those who voted for the same ol Politricks which Coontrell represents!!! And to think most of ya’ll graduated college!!!😂😅😆

  3. I’m just tired of losing vehicles to flood waters. Three cars in 5 years is enough. If two dogs pee at the same time, my street floods, even though what appears to be two of the largest and best-working storm drains are less than 60 feet away from my home.

    I’d like to see the city enforce some of its ordinances that prohibit and punish people who cut their grass and blow the clippings into the street. Where do they think the clippings and leaves will ultimately go when it rains? There are at least three ordinances related to this, perhaps more. Police should keep an eye open for this violation, and they should enforce it. The penalties should be increased because the damage this causes is irreversible and costly.

    It’s true, no one in the administration ever talks about a complete rebuild of the pumping system. I realize that it might take billions of dollars and many years to do it. But when will it ever start? The city could borrow the money, sell bonds, seek federal financial assistance, or whatever. But it has to, at least, stop bullshi__ _ ing the people and face the realities that we live with. We can’t expect a 19th or 20th century pumping system to be effective in the 21st century city. Whatever it takes, let’s get busy talking about it and stop talking about more festivals, second lines, sporting events and concerts, and bike lanes. We all have to live here, and we all want to be as safe from rain waters as from crime.

  4. S&WB keeps saying that we can’t expect a 19th C pumping system to be effective in the 21st C. They keep quoting the same stats about the system designed to handle only so many inches of rain/hour—but, those a–holes have had 200 years and all the taxes, fees, and grants during all that time to maintain and upgrade that 19th C system! Instead, they been robbing us all! In all that time, as far as I can tell, the only times there were any actual upgrades were when the first phase of the SELA project was done (@ ’96-2000) then after Katrina (@ 2006-9). The huge, destructive and counter-productive SELA extension that just came on line has been a massive boondoggle and has made drainage substantially worse in more of the city. It has returned Broadmoor and Mid-City to where they were in 1995–no longer a symbol of recovery and drainage functionality that they were after Katrina. Rather, now symbols of how NOLA government and S&WB are incompetent and uncaring, while FEMA and USA Corpse of Engineers are actively antagonistic and destructive to mixed working class neighborhoods. That’s the really sad reality! There’s a whole lot of scumbags in our government and S&WB who should be in jail or wearing tar and feathers!

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