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Hurricane Aftermath: Quantifying the True Cost of Katrina

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The recent natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina devastated wastewater utilities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Many treatment systems suffered catastrophic damage. Compounding the problem, some of the affected utilities lost over half of their rate base, undermining their ability to generate sufficient revenue to meet operations and maintenance costs and bond payments. Public health has been placed at risk; without an official assessment of conditions there could be a prolonged period before the utilities receive sufficient funding to prevent financial insolvency and ensure their ability to maintain essential infrastructure and services.

Wastewater utilities are among the nation's top protectors of public health. While their committed employees are working to meet immediate needs, some utilities will need long-term financial support from federal and state agencies. In order to address this financial requirement, elected officials needed an official assessment of the wastewater system damage across the Gulf States.

Water Environment Federation is a highly respected voice of the industry and an appropriate vehicle for providing this assessment to Congress and other governmental agencies. Black & Veatch, in collaboration with WEF and select utilities, provided the technical and financial basis for this assessment—the Assessment of Reconstruction Costs and Debt Management for Wastewater Utilities Affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864706783761554

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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