GNO, Inc. Reviews Progress On Urban Water Plan

NEW ORLEANS – State, local, and grassroots leaders convened Tuesday to review progress of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, which was released in September 2013. Following the two-year update, local business leaders attended workshops with city and state agencies to discuss opportunities for advancing green infrastructure and water management specializations in their businesses.

         Administered by Greater New Orleans, Inc., and led by New Orleans firm Waggonner & Ball Architects and a team of local and Dutch water management experts, the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan directly addresses groundwater and storm water as critical factors in shaping a safer, more livable, and economically vibrant Southeast Louisiana. In the past two years, the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan has not only influenced water-related implementation and investments in the region, but has also been internationally recognized as a nationally leading vision by the following awards and accolades:


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• The American Planning Association: 2015 National Planning Excellence Award for Environmental Planning for the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan


• The NADO 2014 Innovation Award for the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan App

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• The NADO 2013 Innovation Award for the Greater New Orleans Comprehensive, Integrated and Sustainable Water Management Strategy 


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         Beyond national recognition, the Urban Water Plan has shaped new storm water retention and groundwater management policies in the City of New Orleans’ Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO), acted as a blueprint for unprecedented funding pursuits via HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) and spurred new community outreach initiatives and grassroots collaborations.  In addition to these policy achievements, both Jefferson and Orleans Parishes are actively implementing demonstration projects directly from the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, as well as projects reflecting the Plan’s principles. 

         These civic and community impacts of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water plan are described in more detail below by economic development, state, municipal and grassroots leaders:

         “Progress requires bold leadership. GNO, Inc. commends city and parish leaders who have embraced the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan and have recognized that their investments in water management will return a range of economic benefits for all citizens,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO, Greater New Orleans, Inc.

         “Funding the Urban Water Plan exhibits our continuing focus on investing in the resilience of the New Orleans region and the state,” said Office of Community Development-Disaster Recovery Unit Executive Director Pat Forbes. “This has turned out to be one of the finest examples of how Louisiana capitalizes on lessons learned post-Katrina to rebuild ‘safer, stronger and smarter.’ We look forward to seeing the safety and resilience dividends of its implementation.”

         “As the City of New Orleans emerges as an international leader in resilience, the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan has served as a guiding framework for living with water,” Jeff Hebert, Chief Resilience Officer, City of New Orleans and Executive Director, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. “The vision outlined in the Plan has not only been applied to citywide policies, but also in grassroots outreach, national funding pursuits and various demonstration projects.  The Urban Water Plan has been a catalyst in shifting the City of New Orleans’ water management practices and overall resilience measures.”

         “In this post Katrina environment, we have come realize the need to build more resilient communities with a greater emphasis on green infrastructure,” said Kazem Alikhani, Director, Jefferson Parish Public Works Department. “Having the details of innovative regional water management best practices in the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan has provided a valuable tool for visualizing and implementing projects in Jefferson Parish.”

         "My organization owes its existence to the Urban Water Plan,” Nathan Lott, Coordinator, Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative. “Our founders came from different sectors, including architecture, education, disaster readiness, landscape architecture, engineering, and community organizing. They were invigorated by working together on the plan and established Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative as a forum for ongoing interdisciplinary partnership. We're committed to seeing that the principles of the Urban Water Plan translate into actions that make our neighborhoods safer and more beautiful.”

         “We are heartened that the Water Plan has been embraced by the community,” David Waggonner, President, Waggonner and Ball Architects. “It is fundamental to our future, providing both hope for environmental and social equity as well as an empirical basis for investment and wealth creation. We hope that the business leaders of our city, region and nation appreciate the importance and opportunity of rising to the challenge we face.”

         “The ‘Living with Water’ ideas in the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan show how smart water management and smart redevelopment can improve the City’s overall social, economic and cultural resilience,” Dale Morris, Senior Economist, Royal Netherlands Embassy. “To see the Water Plan adopted in the New Orleans Resilience Plan is humbling.  To see it transforming some New Orleans’ neighborhood renewal projects is inspirational.  The Embassy feels privileged to be able to help New Orleans, even in just a small way, show the rest of the world what resilience looks like.”

         “At the two year anniversary of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, I am thrilled to see the progress we have made and the momentum underway in the Greater New Orleans region,” said Robin Barnes, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of GNO, Inc. “Moving forward, it is now critical to ensure we are leveraging this activity for business development and cultivation of a specialized industry: GNO, Inc. looks forward to continue working with private and public partners to cultivate and export these new specializations as part of the Emerging Environmental sector.”

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