SWBNO hints at plans for live pump status tracking

Photo courtesy of SWBNO

On Tuesday, June 18, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) updated residents on the status of the city’s drainage pumps, turbines, frequency changers, and other power sources, hinting at changes coming to the utility.

According to a tweet sent out by SWBNO, the system now has 118 out of 120 pumps available for service, as well as all five turbines (used to power the pumps), frequency changers, and other redundant power sources such as the Electro-Motive Diesel generators.

The update comes just over a month after a major SWBNO pump lost power during heavy rains on May 12, resulting in street flooding across the city.  During that storm, more than two inches of rain fell over a one-hour period – an amount that would have strained even a perfectly-performing system.

News of the restoration of three more pumps to service garnered mixed reactions from the community. However, one response led to an impromptu announcement of sorts from the utility.

“Would you consider maintaining a website that shows real-time status of pumps, turbines, what areas are covered or undercovered at the moment, weather forecasts, parking restriction status, etc.?” Asked Twitter user Jacquesimo. “This transparency would be imminently helpful, reinstill trust.”

SWBNO replied simply “This is in the works. Stay tuned.”

While they didn’t release any further details, it’s possible to speculate that the proposed website might operate similar to the city’s streetwisenola.gov page, which provides real-time updates on road conditions, traffic, and street flooding across the city.

Later that same day, SWBNO tweeted regarding meetings held with Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration to discuss how funds won in the #FairShare infrastructure deal might be used at the utility. “This is a very exciting time for the City and SWBNO,” said Executive Director Ghassan Korban. The utility later hinted again at efforts to modernize, saying, “Smarter decisions… steer the ship away from antiquated ways and allows us to modernize the utility…”

They also tweeted a list of top priorities that included refurbishing the Sycamore Filter galleries, bringing Automated Meter Infrastructure to New Orleans, developing a Master Plan, paying off the utility’s debs, and more.

Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor whose work has been featured in publications such as The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_

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