This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Sewerage and Water Board of New
November's Gallery offers a glimpse into its development and its achievements.
In 1899, the Sewerage and Water Board was created by Act 6 of the Extra Session of the Louisiana Legislature, which
authorized the board to furnish, construct, operate, and maintain a water treatment and distribution system and a sanitary
sewerage system for New Orleans. Following a vote of the people, the act became a Constitutional amendment. A few
years later, in 1903, the New Orleans Drainage Commission, organized seven years earlier to
create a master drainage plan, was merged with the Sewerage and Water Board, to consolidate all of the city's
drainage, water, and sewerage programs. Thus began the daunting battle to keep our below-sea-level city high and dry
and to provide its citizens with clean water and efficient waste disposal.
It was, indeed, a monumental task. In 1902, in the S&WB's Fifth Semi-Annual Report, President Pro Tem
Janvier gave some idea of just how monumental when he wrote, "when the tax-payers decided to sewer this city of
300,000 population, covering an area of 23 square miles laid out in squares and with street mileage of 700 miles, to
complete its water distribution system and supply it with clear water, they projected the largest public works of this
character ever undertaken at one time in the United States, and this under peculiar and practically untried local
And the task continues today, no less daunting in spite of a century of technological advancement. Today, the
S&WB drains approximately 61,000 acres in New Orleans and in Jefferson Parish, operates 21 drainage pumping
stations and 82 sewerage pumping and lift stations, produces 125 million gallons of purified water from the Mississippi
River, and maintains 1450 miles of sewers, 90 miles of covered drainage canals and 82 miles of open, unlined canals. It
is not an easy job, and, perhaps inevitably, it is not one that can be accomplished without some controversy. But in this
month's Gallery, we celebrate the effort and congratulate the Sewerage and Water Board on its century of achievement.
For further information on the S&WB's
history, accomplishments, and
visit the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans website!
Click on the images below to see a larger version of the
photograph and a description of what it shows.