New Orleans Turns to Green Infrastructure for New Water Plan

Flooding in New Orleans (picture source: livingwithwater.com).

Flooding in New Orleans (picture source: livingwithwater.com).

“The new approach to storm water management is all about living with water instead of constantly trying to get rid of it…” The Thinkprogress.org article, “New Water Plan Could Turn New Orleans into the New Amsterdam” explains New Orleans’s new approach to mitigating flooding and land subsidence.

Earlier this month, an economic development organization, Greater New Orleans, Inc., unveiled a plan for three parishes to be transformed into areas embracing water. Rain gardens, bioswales, and upgraded canals would be used instead of enforcement against the water.

The official website states, “The Urban Water Plan addresses groundwater and stormwater as critical factors in shaping a safe, livable, and beautiful city. Administered by GNO, Inc., the $2.5 million plan has been funded by the Louisiana Office of Community Development. New Orleans firm Waggonner and Ball led a team of local and international water management experts in developing the Urban Water Plan” (livingwithwater.com).

The plan aims to provide protection for New Orleans from weather and subsidence or, the sinking of the ground. It will also provide economic opportunity by decreasing flood damage and increasing water front property. This is a positive alternative to the city’s traditional method of pumping water out of the city and into nearby Lake Pontchartrain. The pumping method is becoming ineffective due to high costs and climate change which brings increases in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes.

Rain gardens, bioswales, and new and upgraded canals fill the plan. Demonstration projects will be built throughout the city to display how each green infrastructure element will operate.

With this plan, the outlook is bright for New Orleans and other cities. If the demonstrations are successful and the full plan is implemented, the city will serve as an example to and leader for the country and the world. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has already said he looked to New Orleans when drafting his $20 billion storm protection plan which he unveiled in June.

Read more about New Orleans’ plan here.

What can Pittsburgh learn from the moves that New Orleans is making?