While a boil water advisory is still in effect for the east bank of Orleans Parish, Mayor Mitch Landrieu says the city is in a "much better position today than we were yesterday."
All roads and bridges have reopened as the temperature has risen, the airport is fully functional once again, and water pressure across the city is steadily rising, Landrieu said at a press conference just before noon.
"While the water pressure for the east bank has been steadily increasing since yesterday, the boil water advisory is still in effect because, as everyone knows, it takes 24 hours to determine if the water continues to be safe," he said. "In the meantime, we want to please ask everybody to limit their water usage and take all precautionary steps."
Residents should use bottled water or water that has been boiled for one minute to "drink, cook, brush teeth, and to make baby formula," Landrieu said.
Testing has already begun, and the water pressure has risen on the East Bank enough to allow testing to continue, while repairs to broken water mains in New Orleans East should help the system further recover.
Despite that progress, Landrieu said everyone should continue conserving water.
"If we want water pressure to improve dramatically, we have to continue to conserve the amount of water that we use," he said. "The system won't be able to catch up with itself if we don't do that."
Residents should also inspect their own property for leaks.
"One of the reasons that something like this occurs is when the thaw begins, the pipes in private homes break," Landrieu said. "On the private side, as you know, lots of people are experiencing leaks. You have to call your plumber, and, if necessary, you have to turn off the water main to your property."
Conserving water for the next 24 to 48 hours is the best way to help the water system return to normal, Landrieu said.
"The most important people in this fight now are the citizens of New Orleans," he said. "The faster we can identify where the leaks are on the private side and then begin to ameliorate that by turning off your water main, conserving water as best as you possibly can, the easier it's going to be for this team to move from where we are to where we want to be."