Increasing Resilience in New Orleans

The challenge

Veolia North America plays a key role in managing one of the largest wastewater treatment operations under contract in the United States. Our partnership with the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans has delivered many benefits over the past two decades, including support for the areas devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The project challenges are:

  • After a year of studying the viability of an O&M contract with a private-sector provider, the Sewerage & Water Board (S&WB) in 1992 contracted the operation of its two wastewater treatment plants to Veolia.
  • With a combined treatment capacity of 132 MGD, the project was at the time the largest under contract in the country.
  • Serving a pre-Katrina population of 465,000, the project still remains one of the country's largest, with a combined capacity of 142 MGD (a 122-MGD pure oxygen secondary wastewater treatment plant and a 20-MGD trickling filter plant) as well as a 44 dry-ton-per day fluidized-bed incinerator.
  • Under the contract, Veolia's scope of responsibilities includes capital improvements, hurricane recovery, septage receiving and biosolids disposal.

The solution

Innovative solutions:

  • Work with the S&WB to plan and supervise a $1.7 million capital improvements program
  • Work with regulatory agencies to satisfy their concerns about effluent non-compliance and emissions violations; actions included an intensive technical training program; initiation of process controls and treatment modifications
  • Approach increasing incinerator capacity in a way that reduced oxygen generation costs
  • Mobilize vast resources from around the country to assist with plant restorations when hurricanes Rita and Katrina struck in 2005
  • ​Take broad range of actions to respond to hurricanes: dewatering and cleaning plant sites, rebuilding control room with modern SCADA system, rehabilitating eight clarifiers, replacing/repairing entire high/medium voltage electrical distribution system, replacing mechanical equipment; and completing repairs to the West Bank plant

Benefits for our clients


  • Achieved estimated savings of $15 million in terms of O&M costs over the first decade of the contract
  • Contributed more than $1 million to community and civic groups
  • Helped improve the quality of life in the city and provided an engaged and involved work force
  • Conducted intensive training program and initiated process controls and treatment modifications that restored permit compliance
  • Completed in 2006 a $6 million capital improvements program for the city
  • Completing $47 million in hurricane recovery programs to restore East Bank plant and other facilities devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005
  • Acted as the city's agent, managing all FEMA interface during the hurricane recovery for the project
  • Mobilized a global aid effort through Veolia Waterforce that sent equipment and experts from across the world to provide clean water and help in facility recovery
  • Received numerous Gold and Silver Peak Performance awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies for outstanding environmental compliance
  • Honored with the 2011 Infrastructure Award from the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships
  • ​Received the Award of Excellence presented by the U.S. Conference of Mayors