Floods this summer revealed that New Orleans’ drainage system hasn’t been working at full capacity. Since then, the city has been scrambling to improve the system in a number of ways — from repairing drainage pumps to clearing catch basins on the street.
This weekend, the city will teach citizens how to clean catch basins themselves. They’re calling it Adopt-A-Catch Basin.
Catch basins are those grated gutters on the sides of the road. When it rains, water flows through those grates before it’s pumped out of the city.
The problem is, some of those catch basins get clogged with things like trash, dirt, and grass clippings from your lawn. That slows down the drainage system.
The city has a team of people whose job it is to clean out catch basins. And since the flooding this summer they've hired additional contractors to clean even more. But now they’re asking average citizens to pitch in.
“This is an opportunity for us to explain to all the residents the things that they can do on the front end to prevent the catch basins from being clogged," says Tyronne Walker, a spokesperson for the city of New Orleans.
Walker says the idea is to train neighborhood leaders how to clean out a clogged catch basin — what tools to use and how to keep them from clogging in the first place. And then those people can show their neighbors how to do it.
But is it fair to ask citizens to help do the city’s work?
“Well, here’s how we’ve won in this city: we’ve won when everybody’s worked together,” says Walker.
Walker says the city and its new contractors are focused on clearing the catch basins that have already been identified as most severely clogged. So this program isn’t about taking work off the city’s plate. But it does help.
The Adopt-a-Catch Basin training for neighborhood leaders will be held Saturday morning at the New Orleans Treme Center. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Other trainings will be held in neighborhoods throughout the city during the month of October.
Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Coypu Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.