Public Lab Research note

New Orleans Clogged Storm Drains

by wisegrey , jeanell873 | September 19, 2019 14:46 19 Sep 14:46 | #20929 | #20929


New Orleans is prone to flooding due to the bowl shape which places much of our city below sea level. Storm drains, one of our principal ways to combat this flooding, are very infrequently inspected and often clogged, preventing them from performing their function.

Our main concern:

Clogged storm drains contribute to flooding which can destroy housing, cars, and other private property, and in extreme cases can lead to death of citizens who are unable to leave.

Obstacles and supporting information:

The elevation of storm drains is one piece of information we do not have. Some are located at a higher elevation than others preventing them from taking in water during a flood. We have data from the city government that show the last date of storm drain inspection, but the map seems very out of date, showing that many of them have never been inspected and those that have haven't been looked at since 2017. We also do not know how fast the storm drains get clogged and what the composition of the waste clogging them is.

Who is engaged in this concern?

The NOLA Sewage and Water Board and Lusher Charter School. However, the SWB have not inspected the drains in a few years, meaning the solution is mainly in the hands of Lusher.

What are the initial questions?

-What is the composition of the debris in the storm drains?

-How much plastic flows into a drain after one week?

-How long does it take for the drains to get clogged?

-How long does it take to unclog the storm drains?[-questions:tagname]


@mimiss has marked @jeanell873 as a co-author.

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Hello! Love this issue brief. To the last of the four questions you pose, i believe one person suggests that it takes 68 minutes to unclog a drain! See

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