Environment

New Orleans faces several challenges related to urban water. First, it is the third rainiest city in the United States, with 56 days of rain contributing to 64 inches of rainfall on average every year. Second, soil subsidence poses a significant challenge to the city and causes issues like uneven streets and potholes. New Orleans...
April 2017 Website

New Orleans faces several challenges related to urban water. First, it is the third rainiest city in the United States, with 56 days of rain contributing to 64 inches of rainfall on average every year. Second, soil subsidence poses a significant challenge to the city and causes issues like uneven streets and potholes. New Orleans includes many neighborhoods with compressed soils that are subsiding at a rate of up to one-third of an inch annually, with certain areas subsiding at a rate of over an inch per year.  Lastly, climate change has been a contributing factor to more intense rain events.

While New Orleans is increasingly protected from storm-surge flooding thanks to heightened levee protection, neighborhoods are becoming increasingly susceptible to rain runoff flooding, particularly as soil subsidence and storm severity increases. In this environment, the design and regulation of interior conveyors of stormwater, including streets, public spaces, and private properties, is just as important as perimeter defenses such as levees, flood gates, and wetlands. This is commonly referred to as green infrastructure and stormwater management.

Since 2013, GNOF, in partnership with the Surdna Foundation, has educated and trained community, nonprofit, city, and parish government leaders, as well as design, planning, and construction professionals about green infrastructure and stormwater management through its Urban Water Series.

Urban Water Series Phase 1 and 2

Phase 1: In the summer of 2013, the Foundation invited national experts on green infrastructure and stormwater management from five vanguard U.S. cities to share their learnings and strategies about green infrastructure and stormwater management through a series of five workshops. Watch the videos of these workshops.

Phase 2: In the fall of 2014, 26 city government, community, and nonprofit leaders interested in water management issues visited Austin, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee to experience firsthand how these cities scaled their green infrastructure and stormwater management strategies.

After learning from Urban Water Series Phases 1 and 2, in 2015 the Foundation committed to help build a movement around “living with water” in the Greater New Orleans region through implementing the following programmatic strategies in partnership with other philanthropic, nonprofit, and public sector organizations:

  1. Educate the public on New Orleans’ urban water challenges, how green infrastructure and stormwater management can help solve these challenges, and how residents and businesses can be stewards of their own environment and manage stormwater on their own properties.
  2. Support the nonprofit sector in addressing the city’s critical urban water issues in an equitable manner.
  3. Help build the capacity of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and the City of New Orleans to better implement green infrastructure and stormwater management strategies.

Urban Water Series Technical Master Class

In the winter of 2016, the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the City of New Orleans began a series of lectures and workshops to deepen the technical knowledge of private and public sector professionals to improve their ability to design, develop, install, and maintain green infrastructure for a vibrant region. GNOF and the City of New Orleans have put together four sets of technical master classes.

December 7, 2016 – Free Public Lecture – Man Made Natures – Urban Living and Climate Change

December 8, 2016 – Technical Master Class – Manmade Natures: Urban Climate Change Solutions

  • Speaker: Danish architect Flemming Rafn Thomsen, Co-founding Partner, Tredje Natur

April 26, 2017 – Free Public Lecture – Integrating Building and Site Design for Better Stormwater Management

April 27, 2017 – Technical Master Class – Collaborative Design Techniques for Stormwater Integration

  • Speakers: Vince Micha, AIA Senior Project Architect, The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc.; Tom Mortensen, PLA, ASLA, Site Planner and Landscape Architect, R.A. National; and, Paul McIlheran, PE, CPSWQ, Civil Engineer, R.A. Smith National

November 2017 – Built Right: Constructing Green Infrastructure for Maximum Performance

  • Speakers: Barry Fagan, Vice President of Green Infrastructure, Volkert; Anthony Kendrick, Green Infrastructure Specialist, EcoServices; John Tipton, Director of Estimating, Rotolo Consultants Inc.; Byron Pogue, Project Manager, Twin Shores Landscape and Construction Services; and, David Batts, Director, EcoServices

January 10 – Free Public Lecture – Streets that Keep you Healthy, Happy, and Safe

January 10 – Technical Master Class – Integrating Green Infrastructure Into Complete Streets

  • Speakers: Peg Staeheli, FASLA, PLA, MIG | SVR; Lolly Kunkler, PE, MIG I SvR

Meet the Technical Master Class partners: American Institute of Architects, Downtown Development District, Gaea Consultants, GNO Inc., Jefferson Parish, LA Urban Stormwater Coalition, Regional Planning Commission, Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish Public Works, St. Tammany Parish, Tulane Institute on Water Resources, Law & Policy, Urban Land Institute, Water Collaborative of Greater New Orleans, and Louisiana Water Economy Network.

Equity in Action

Equity is at the heart of GNOF’s work. It has partnered with and invested in initiatives that help build climate-resilient and equitable neighborhoods.

  • GNOF funded the first phase of the development of the Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) Climate-Smart Cities Tool, a GIS-based decision support tool that allows the prioritization of green infrastructure locations in New Orleans based on environmental, social, and economic parameters. GNOF’s funding also enabled TPL to integrate primary healthcare data, a first for TPL. GNOF’s funding was matched by The Funder’s Network Partners for Places program.  Various national funders funded the second phase of tool development. GNOF served on the Technical Advisory team for this tool and helped train various stakeholders on its use.
  • GNOF and Surdna Foundation are funding an initiative to build climate-resilient and equitable neighborhoods in New Orleans through partnering with the Waterwise team and various community-based organizations, which educate residents about green infrastructure and stormwater management and help build neighborhood leadership in order to plan and implement green infrastructure initiatives within their neighborhood. Through building neighborhood leadership, one of the expected mid-term outcomes is to help build the neighborhood infrastructure that will allow residents and other community stakeholders, such as schools, to be actively engaged when mid- to large-scale green infrastructure initiatives are being planned by city government or the private sector.  GNOF’s and Waterwise’s goal is to broaden this work through the 16 neighborhoods of the Claiborne Corridor, one of the City’s priority corridors and an area faced with poor environmental conditions and limited access to quality jobs, transportation, and safe housing. Many of these neighborhoods sit below sea level and experience flooding issues during rainstorm events. This initiative was started in Treme in 2016 and was launched in the 7th Ward neighborhood in July 2017. The estimated cost of implementing this initiative in eight Claiborne Corridor neighborhoods over the next three years is approximately $1.25 million.

Grants supporting urban water management

$25,000 to KIPP New Orleans for reconstructing the KIPP Central City Primary (KCCP) schoolyard to add green infrastructure and stormwater management features.

$58,800 to support the Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative hiring a full-time coordinator.

$103,000 to Greenlight New Orleans to pilot residential options for green infrastructure features and build a rain barrel movement.

$10,000 to FirstLine Schools for the addition of a water management curriculum to the school’s Edible Schoolyard New Orleans program.

$39,000 to the Louisiana Office of the Trust for Public Lands for the development of a web-based decision support tool that will allow the prioritization of green infrastructure locations in New Orleans based on environmental, social, and economic parameters.

$45,000 for Urban Conservancy to support the Front Yard Initiative concrete removal and green infrastructure program.

$25,000 to Urban Strategies to support the design of green infrastructure and of educational programs for the Lafon Park Stormwater Management and Public Education Demonstration Project.

 Partners

Surdna Foundation

City of New Orleans