On the Ground in New Orleans
An NRDC Fact-finding Mission, October 2005
We stopped to look at one of the city's drinking water pumping stations. Although the station was operating, the drinking water in most of the city is still contaminated and will not likely be drinkable for some time.
We have not yet been able to find out how many water main breaks occurred in the city as a result of the storms. Judging from the number of uprooted trees, there was likely significant disruption of underground pipelines. At one location we noticed clear water coming up from underground, indicating a likely broken water main. Damaged water mains can allow contaminants from the soil -- such as sewage and toxic chemicals -- to enter the drinking water system. Fixing the problem will require locating and repairing all of the leaks and then systematically flushing out the water system. Restoring safe drinking water to the city will be an enormous task. -- EO
Photos all pages: Erik Olson and Gina Solomon
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