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Learn how to clean your catch basin at a free training session this weekend

Clean catch basins reduce the city’s flooding risk

This catch basin (bottom right) is one of more than 62,000 that must be maintained to prevent flooding in New Orleans.

Almost every block in New Orleans has catch basins, which work in conjunction with the floodwalls, levees, and pump system to prevent our below-sea-level city from filling up with water when it rains. Catch basins collect surface runoff and funnel it into the drainage system, which leads to Lake Pontchartrain.

The problem is, the city only has enough budget to maintain 3,500 of its 68,092 catch basins—which means that many become clogged with trash, leaves, and other debris. And that in turn means a heavy rain can flood New Orleans, which happened in August 2016.

After those floods, the mayor and the Department of Public Works pushed residents to take ownership of their nearest catch basin, launching an award-winning catch basin adoption program. This weekend, in conjunction with mayor LaToya Cantrell’s CleanUpNOLA Initiative, the Neighborhood Engagement Office will teach residents how to safely, effectively clean out their catch basins.

“We cannot grow if we don’t have a healthy city,” Cantrell said at a press conference announcing CleanUpNOLA’s launch on Sept 17. “We encourage residents to step up, businesses to step up and be held accountable because you too have a responsibility if you’re calling the city of New Orleans your home.”

The training takes place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Phyllis Wheatley Community School (2300 Dumaine St.). Seven citywide cleanup days follow through October and early November. Residents can register for the free event at