NEW ORLEANS – On Wednesday, July 26, 2017, the New Orleans City Council Public Works Committee will meet. The agenda will include a discussion of the years-long backlog of broken and missing catch basins in the City of New Orleans.
Councilmember-at-Large Stacy Head has made the repair and replacement of broken or missing catch basins one of her highest priorities. In the 2017 budget, the Mayor Mitch Landrieu listed a $3 Million one-time expenditure to “eliminate the drainage point repair backlog.” As of May 17, 2017, the Department of Public Works had not yet completed those repairs.
“It is a fundamental obligation of the City to provide its citizens with basic services such as a functioning drainage system. Our government must provide these basics before anything else is funded,” said Councilmember Head. “I took the administration’s word that this would be resolved by this summer but to date, none of the catch basins in the back log have been repaired and the list keeps growing. At the committee meeting, I will be demanding answers, not excuses, about whether that money was actually spent and how the administration plans to address this growing problem.” She added, “Our citizens need no more promises about what will be done in the future. We need the administration to start repairing and replacing the catch basins.”
In June of 2016, the Department of Public Works reported that there were approximately 3,600 open 311 requests for street flooding or other drainage issues. At that time, there were an estimated 200 drainage point repairs and 750 catch basin repair or replacements outstanding.
Councilmember Head has requested that a representative from the Landrieu administration attend the July 26 meeting and be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What was the amount and source of dollars budgeted in 2017 for catch basin replacements and repairs, clean-outs, and drainage point repairs?
- How has the Department of Public Works used the budgeted money?
- How many catch basins have been cleaned and repaired or replaced and how many drainage point repairs have been completed since January 1, 2017?
- What are the remaining number of catch basin replacements, repairs, or clean-outs and drainage point repairs documented (through 311 and DPW)?
- What is the estimated cost and timeline to reduce that number to zero?
- Prioritizing funding for fundamental services such as basic infrastructure has been a priority of Head’s throughout her term on the New Orleans City Council. In May of 2017, she announced #Back2BasicsNOLA, a social media campaign designed to collect and share examples of broken catch basins, lingering blight, and unsafe parks. She is calling on citizens to attend the meeting and demand that basic City services be funded before anything else in the City budget.