Water and drainage management in New Orleans faces significant challenges due to outdated metering systems, insufficient staffing, and many delinquent accounts. The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) relies on revenue from water bill payments to upgrade and expand the necessary infrastructure. However, revenue collection has been difficult, exacerbated by customer disputes and a moratorium on water shutoffs. The COVID-19 pandemic further worsened the situation, leading to a significant increase in delinquent accounts. To address these challenges, the City has partnered with FUSE to assign Executive Fellow Carolyn P. Jones to analyze the factors impacting revenue collection, foster alignment among the Board’s leadership, and develop a strategic plan to increase revenue and build customer trust.
Jones will begin by building relationships with various stakeholders, including SWBNO staff, City Council members, customers, and tenants’ rights activists, to understand their perspectives and aspirations regarding water rights and management. She will conduct a comprehensive desk review to identify best practices and innovative approaches in revenue collection, considering equity and justice in similar communities. A PESTLE analysis will be conducted to assess the macro-level forces affecting water bill collections, including political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental factors. Based on the analysis, Jones will develop a strategic plan that involves all operating units of the Board, addresses workforce gaps, and ensures equitable treatment of low-income and BIPOC customers. The plan will be implemented to promote alignment across the executive team and leadership to facilitate progress and revenue improvement throughout the organization.