Maureen O’Neill Interview

Maureen, a former resident of New Orleans, served as director of planning for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board from 1982 through 1988. In 1986, she helped stop plans to dump radioactive gypsum into the Mississippi River—the sole source of drinking water for New Orleans. In 1988, Governor Buddy Roemer appointed Maureen assistant secretary for water resources for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), where she set standards for public participation at the agency. She established new water regulations, increased enforcement, and passed some of the most comprehensive water quality standards in the state’s history. She developed an online constant-monitoring program for major industrial discharges and expanded the Lower Mississippi River Warning System to protect the drinking water of 1.5 million people. In 1992 Maureen joined the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a senior policy advisor in Washington, DC where she worked on the Middle East Peace Process and global water issues. She recently retired from EPA and currently resides in New York City. Audio interview with Maureen Oneill for Women Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental Movement by Peggy Frankland, conducted by Jennifer A. Cramer, Director of the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History. Copyright: Louisiana State University Special Collections.