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Waste-Plugging Sewerage & Water Board Reforms Pass Legislature

A flood of reforms is ahead for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. While they won't put an end to boil water alerts directly, Senator J.P. Morrell’s (D-New Orleans) SB 47 passed the House and the Senate this morning. The bill sets up new regulations, shortens term limits, and makes other tweaks in hopes of keeping our City’s water and sanitation system away from organizational leaks and blockages.


Mayor Mitch announced the changes in November of 2012, during a slew of other fat-trimming initiatives. Landrieu said that such massive restructuring “happens the same way you eat an elephant—one bite at a time,” at the time, and legislators have finally begun chomping away at potential redundancies in the department.


J.P. Morrell led and State Representative Walt Leger authored SB 47, which aims to increase transparency and accountability within the department. The bill is intended to reduce term limits, establish a diverse committee to nominate Mayoral candidates, mandate inclusive representation throughout the GNO, and reduce the size of the S&WB.


Term lengths will be reduced from nine to four years, and no member will serve more than two consecutive terms. Under the new law, all candidates must have resided in Orleans Parish for at least two years prior to their appointment, and must have training in either architecture, environmental quality, finance, accounting, business administration, engineering, law, public health, urban planning, facilities management, public administration, or community/consumer advocacy. Quorums, groups organized to discuss and vote on possible changes to the S&WB, have been reduced from seven to five members. If signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, the law will take effect on January 1, 2014.


Morrell said the legislation’s passage marks a major step forward for government agencies in NOLA. 


“I’m proud to have worked closely with my colleagues and the city to produce tough reforms for one of the city’s most vital institutions,” said Senator Morrell. “These good government modifications modernize agency governance, vastly increasing public accountability and transparency while enabling the board to act more effectively and efficiently. I believe this measure will increase public confidence in the agency and make it more responsive to the needs of all New Orleanians."





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