After Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers direly predicted that it would take months to pump the water out of the city. Within a few days, though, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO), founded in 1903, had restarted most of its 24 pumping stations and the water was receding. Within about three weeks, the city was mostly pumped out and ready to enter the next phase of its recovery.
Restarting the pumps and getting the potable water supply and sewers operating again has taken heroic efforts on the part of SWBNO staff, led by executive director Marcia St. Martin. National Public Radio reported that not one of the 1200 employees of the SWBNO abandoned their posts during the hurricane. By Oct. 6, only five weeks after Katrina, the SWBNO lifted the boil alert for all areas west of the Industrial Canal. New Orleans may never be quite the same, but as SWBNO starts into its second century, the city knows it will do its best and more to keep the waters at bay.