2023 Year In Review

As public servants of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, we report to work every day with a shared goal: improve the quality of life for New Orleanians and turn the page for this historic, yet aging, utility toward a brighter future. Embarking on a new year, we have taken the opportunity to consider our progress toward that goal, reflecting on our 2023 successes and challenges—many of which we overcame.

For example, last year we worked closely with the City Council to empower customers and improve our billing and appeals processes. We also continued replacing water mains to enhance drinking water reliability and prevent future water main breaks that threaten our drinking water supply.

Toward the end of the year, our utility swiftly responded to the threat of saltwater intrusion, something much of Southeast Louisiana encountered. Our teams worked diligently to proactively communicate with our community and develop solutions to have on hand if needed.

More recently, we quickly course corrected after learning of internal challenges related to water quality sampling data, enacting measures to hold our staff accountable and protect the health of our customers.

We acknowledge the challenges we have faced and the frustrations they have caused our customers. However, as you can see, we are making meaningful progress. Watch this video for a recap of the progress we are making.

Moving into 2024, we have flagship projects underway or upcoming that will help fulfill our five-year Strategic Plan, which continues to provide a framework for achieving our shared goal. For example:

  • Continued Smart meters installations and the forthcoming customer portal will revolutionize how we do business. Allowing for remote meter reads and 24/7 access to customer water use data, smart meters are also the solution to many of our utility’s billing challenges.
  • We are exploring options for a stormwater fee that would provide more reliable and equitable funding for our drainage system. We are at a critical point in capital improvement project funding. Namely, SWBNO has nearly a billion dollars in projects slated for the next five years that are 93 percent unfunded.
  • We will continue construction on the Power Complex, a modern facility on the Carrollton campus that will offer more reliable and resilient power generation capabilities for our drinking water and drainage pump systems.
  • We are also undergoing an 18-month process to develop a Water Quality Master Plan. This will identify the next level of investments and upgrades needed in our water treatment plants given the new technologies available, the changing regulatory landscape, and the potential threats of climate change.
  • Promoting lead awareness is another key priority of 2024. Our utility is following the newly proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI) and working to meet the current federal regulations that add even more protection against lead exposure. We are actively developing an inventory to understand where lead service lines exist in our system.

To accomplish all of this and our future goals, funding is required. Our team has creatively tapped into available funding resources, resulting in over $105 million in state and federal funding. While these funds will help us get a long way, they cannot fill the revenue gap we have for critical capital investment projects. We look forward to working with our partners in the next year to explore the best path forward.

Institutional change does not come easy, and fixing our aging system will not happen overnight. Thank you for your patience and support as we continue working toward our goal of improving quality of life and modernizing for you.  

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