"We have huge infrastructure problems that we have to fix," Landrieu said of the water system that is more than a century old in some areas. "There is no free lunch and nobody is coming to save us."
Landrieu says previous administrations and councils have postponed efforts to raise the money needed to make the repairs, and with each delay, the system crumbles a little more and the fix grows more and more expensive.
"If we keep putting it off, if we keep waiting, if we keep thinking somebody else is going to relieve our pain for us, then we are going to continue to live in a city that businesses will not invest in and people will not move back in to," Landrieu said.
With Hurricane Katrina's damage thrown on top of that, Landrieu says 40 percent of the city's drinkable water is going down the drain.
"Even on our lowest cost basis, the citizens of New Orleans today are losing at least $13 million a year on the wholesale side," he said.
The council will consider rate increases amounting to ten percent annually over the next several years, in order to raise $500 million for repairs and maintenance.