Amid severe flooding and with few options, NOLA officials dumped untreated sewage into Mississippi River
NEW ORLEANS — Hurricane Ida left the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board with an extensive problem that led to the decision to dump untreated sewage into the Mississippi River, WWL-TV reports.
Before Ida made landfall, officials anticipated sewage issues and urged locals to cut their usage of wastewater. They asked people to limit use of appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, showers, and toilets; officials said this was necessary because Entergy's power to the city’s sewage lift stations had been lost.
But as Ida made landfall, New Orleans' sewage problems multiplied.
Not only did the East Bank water treatment plant lose power, but it flooded.
This meant agency leaders needed to quickly decide how they would prevent area toilets from backing up into homes and businesses.
They felt that their best option was to dump untreated sewage into the Mississippi River.
Notice of this decision, a process that was still occurring late Thursday, had to be relayed to the Department of Environmental Quality of the state and the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA at the federal level.
WWL-TV says the city did not have immediately available any statistics related to the volume of waste that had been dumped into the river.
One official said the raw sewage was left to flow uncontrolled to all areas downriver from the treatment plant near the Orleans-St. Bernard Parish line.
Amid the aftermath of Ida, some steps toward mitigation of the sewage problem were taken. These included sending vacuum trucks to the sewage lift stations to pump out as much of the waste as possible.
Local officials said earlier this week that the dumping process was likely to end by late Thursday.
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