- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - New Orleans officials are laying out short- and long-term plans for upgrades to the city’s aging water system.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other officials held a Wednesday news conference to discuss power fluctuations that led to brief instances of low water pressure, followed by precautionary orders in much of New Orleans to boil city water before drinking or cooking with it.

It’s happened twice in the past three months.

Short-term plans include recently completed repairs on pumps that make the city water system less reliant on commercially provided power, along with other measures aimed at keeping water pressure stable when power fluctuates.

The city says those interim solutions are expected to cost $3 million; long-term capital improvements include $450 million in federally funded upgrades, including more reliable self-generated power for the century-old water system.

Landrieu cautioned that the short-term projects could take six to nine months to complete and that residents could face another advisory before the work is done.

When power fluctuations cause brief drops in water pressure, a boil-water advisory is issued as a precaution while water is tested to make sure harmful bacteria have not contaminated the system.

The inconvenience to residents and businesses - particularly restaurants - has led to complaints from residents and City Council members.

But council members joined Landrieu and Sewerage and Water Board director Cedric Grant on Wednesday to assure the public that the problem is being addressed.

Landrieu, who took office in 2010, said the city has been working to address a sewerage and water infrastructure suffering from decades of neglect, made worse in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. Funding has come from federal sources and rate increases for water customers.

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