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.
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:
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
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
November 2017 – Built Right: Constructing Green Infrastructure for Maximum Performance
January 10 – Free Public Lecture – Streets that Keep you Healthy, Happy, and Safe
January 10 – Technical Master Class – Integrating Green Infrastructure Into Complete Streets
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 is at the heart of GNOF’s work. It has partnered with and invested in initiatives that help build climate-resilient and equitable neighborhoods.
$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.
$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.