SWB To Hire Meteorologist Ahead Of Hurricane Season

Jun 4, 2018

The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans says it’s ready for hurricane season. It has fixed many of its broken pumps and power generators, and is taking steps to monitor summer rain storms more closely.

The five turbines that power East Bank drainage pumps are housed in an old building in giant, unairconditioned rooms in an old building on the Sewerage and Water Board’s Carrollton campus.

Turbine No. 1 is one of the oldest. It looks like a nest of grey pipes attached to a jet engine. And it’s loud. Interim Operations Manager Joe Sensebe says the piercing whistle is created when steam snakes through pipes and forces a turbine to spin.

Turbine #1 is one of four working generators that power the Sewerage and Water Board's East Bank drainage pumps. Officials expect a fifth to be fixed in the coming weeks.
Credit Travis Lux / WWNO

"And then the other high-pitched sound you hear is the actual generator turning making electricity," he adds.

His favorite turbine?

“We love ‘em all, 'cause they all close to working,” he says.

Major floods last summer revealed that three turbines were broken, in addition to several pumps. Officials now expect all five turbines to be working within the next several weeks.

Still, the system is limited by how much it can actually pump. Even if all pumps and turbines had been working last summer, they still wouldn't have been able to keep parts of the city from flooding. That’s why Interim Executive Director Jade Brown-Russell says the Sewerage and Water Board is hiring their own meteorologist to monitor rainstorms in real-time during hurricane season.

“It’ll provide our operations team and our pumping stations with greater specificity of when and where significant rainfall is expected,” she says.

Brown-Russell says the Sewerage and Water Board will also update the public through social media during heavy rains.

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