Initiative Marks 10th Anniversary of GNO Urban Water Plan

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Photo courtesy of Urban Water @ 10

NEW ORLEANS — From Greater New Orleans Inc.:

A partnership of regional organizations has assembled to launch Urban Water @ 10, an initiative to mark a decade since the release of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, the Urban Water Series and supplemental programs that rethink the region’s water management and catalyze a thriving water economy. Hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Greater New Orleans Inc. and the Tulane ByWater Institute, Urban Water @ 10 will convene regional leaders from across private, public, and nonprofit sectors over the next 5 months to celebrate successes, address challenges and harness collective resources for continued momentum. 

“Ten years ago, when the opportunity to develop a strategy for rethinking the region’s relationship with water resources emerged, it was imperative to embark on the work that will provide continuity and opportunities for the region’s numerous thriving industries,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of GNO Inc., “Over the past decade, the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan allowed our community to remedy a century of mistakes which contributed to subsidence and flooding today, paving the way for southeast Louisiana to embrace water as an asset and transform New Orleans into an international model in resilience. This program moves the plan towards implementation, inciting project deployment and product development to produce generational wealth while restoring environmental health for future generations.” 

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Urban Water @ 10 kicked off July 20 with a commencement event that included interactive mapping and visioning activities for event participants to look back at over a century of water management, share accomplishments from the past 10 years, and envision how work done over the next few years will be remembered 100 years from now. Programming – including roundtables, workshops, and field trips – will continue through the summer and fall, culminating in a report and celebratory event in November.  More information – and materials from the 2013 Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan – are available at www.gnowater.org.

“Over the past decade, community, government, business, academic, and philanthropic partners have largely begun to embrace the idea of ‘living with water’ and using green stormwater infrastructure to reduce neighborhood flooding, develop equitable economic opportunities, and improve quality-of-life,” said Andy Kopplin, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “Our work leading the urban water series was designed to bolster the talent and capacity of our region’s community leaders and professionals in the water sector. Urban Water @ 10 aims to bring all those people and perspectives together to discuss the big lessons of the last decade and collectively determine priorities moving forward that will ensure a thriving, sustainable, and just region. As the Greater New Orleans Foundation celebrates 100 years of philanthropy, leadership, and action, we remain committed to ensuring our region continues to be strong and thriving 100 years from now.” 

The myriad efforts by many businesses, organizations, and governments to implement the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan over the last decade have been focused on strategies to manage flood risk and subsidence that impact people, properties, and businesses across southeast Louisiana. The plan, developed in 2013 by New Orleans-based Waggonner & Ball Architects and a team of Dutch and American water management experts, outlines the process for how resilient infrastructure projects can slow, store, and use stormwater effectively to lessen subsidence and protect our neighborhoods from flooding while creating equitable and accessible green spaces and waterfronts. Continued implementation of the plan will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings due to reduced flood losses, lower insurance premiums, and increased property valuations. 

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Moving forward, Urban Water @ 10 will bring together a broad group of cross-parish and cross-sectoral stakeholders, representing varied geographies and specialties, to inventory lessons learned and best practices, identify and overcome roadblocks, and unite around high-level priorities to effectively continue building a better system for stormwater management.  The iterative process for the initiative will work to identify, amplify, and support many critical efforts currently underway around the region – such as the New Orleans’ Gentilly Resilience District, Jefferson Parish’s Green Infrastructure Plan, St. Bernard’s Integrated Water Resources Management Plan, and St. Tammany Parish’s Comprehensive Drainage Plan – while identifying action items that will benefit the movement as a whole in order to build broad momentum across the region.  

“The achievements of the last decade have opened exciting new areas for scientific research. The insights the scientific community is gaining into issues like groundwater dynamics and urban ecosystem change promise to strengthen work on urban water management in coming years. We look forward to further developing the science of urban water to support decision-makers, engineers, and residents of our region as we confront challenges and discover new opportunities for collaboration through the Urban Water @ 10 program, which is supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation. We are also honored to host the kickoff event at the Tulane River and Coastal Center on the banks of the Mississippi River,” said Josh Lewis, Schwartz professor of river and coastal studies and research director of the Tulane ByWater Institute.  

Urban Water @ 10 activities will promote sustainable collaboration between partners and position the collective group of organizations to compete for and capitalize on an abundance of upcoming growth opportunities, such as federal infrastructure funding, resilience planning challenges, and scientific research grants. 

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