The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB) has undertaken a multi-year program, the Sewer System Evaluation and Rehabilitation Program (SSERP), to identify and address structural and mechanical deficiencies in the wastewater collection system. With the implementation of repairs identified and completed in the SSERP, the S&WB will not only be in compliance with federal regulations, but they will also be accomplishing their goals of protecting the environment and increasing the sustainability of the sewer system.
Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, causing extensive damage to the sewer collection system. As was evidenced by the extent of damage in the areas where SSERP repairs had not yet been completed, it was shown that the work completed under the SSERP is greatly improving the resiliency and dependability of the S&WB's sewer system. Work under the SSERP was interrupted due to the storm, and the S&WB invoked force majeure with respect to its obligations under the Consent Decree. Between 2006 and 2009, the S&WB presented to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice revised schedules for the SSERP reflecting the disruption of work and new activities associated with recovery of the sewerage systems from the damages sustained in August 2005. On March 22, 2010, the S&WB entered into a Modified Consent Decree (MCD) that maintains the same basic structure of the original 1998 Decree. On April 24, 2013, and July 17, 2014, the Sewerage and Water Board entered the 2nd and 3rd MCDs with the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice and other parties, extending the construction completion dates for the remaining SSERP Basin to 2025.
MWH is serving as the Program Manager for the SSERP and is responsible for the coordination of the numerous engineers and contractors carrying out the planning, design and construction of improvements to the sewer system. As a result of initial planning between MWH and the S&WB, the city was divided into the following ten service basins: Lakeview, Central Business District/French Quarter (CBD/FQ), Gentilly, Uptown, Mid-City, Lower Ninth Ward, Carrollton, New Orleans East, South Shore, and Algiers. The sewer rehabilitation in the tenth basin, Algiers, is not required under the Consent Decree.
The S&WB has been in compliance with every aspect of the original Consent Decree. Four of the basins (Lakeview, Central Business District/French Quarter (CBD/FQ), Gentilly, Uptown) were completely remedied in accordance with the requirements of the Decree. Remedial work on five Consent Decree basins (Mid City, Lower Ninth Ward, Carrolton, New Orleans East and South Shore) has not been completed. Under the MCDs, the deadlines for completing remedial work on these basins were extended to 2025.
SSERP consists of planning, design and construction phases. Planning was performed in order to determine the structural and hydraulic needs of the S&WB's sewer collection system. The structural needs of the system were evaluated through Collection System Evaluation Studies (CSESs) performed in each of the basins by use of field investigation methods (e.g., smoke and dyed water testing, closed-circuit television inspection, etc.). The CSESs are complete in all 10 basins. The CSES produced recommendations for the rehabilitation of the structural deficiencies identified. Following the completion of the CSES, a Remedial Measures Action Plan (RMAP) was prepared which identified those rehabilitation recommendations that will be performed in each of the Consent Decree basins and the associated schedule.
Following the planning effort is the design phase, during which the required specific improvement recommendations are finalized and construction contract documents are prepared for bidding purposes. The construction contracts are then publicly bid and awarded to the lowest, responsive bidder. Design is currently underway in the five remaining Consent Decree basins.
The construction phase of the program is where the system improvements are executed. Contractors complete the work in accordance with the contract documents. The work is monitored during the construction period and certified within a year following the completion of the work to verify that the improvements are performing as specified. Any defective work identified through the above efforts is corrected through use of the contractor’s construction warranty.
SSERP expenditures to date are $220 million including rehabilitation and capacity related design, construction, and program management services. Total program cost, excluding future program management cost, is currently estimated at $374.1 million.
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Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans