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Lunch & Learns kick off Jan. 17

In 2016, the Water Collaborative debuted a highly successful series of lunchtime lectures on green infrastructure concepts and technology.  Hosted at the Regional Planning Commission, those Lunch & Learns provided 100 area engineers, architects, planners and floodplain managers with new tools to meet or exceed local standards for stormwater management and water quality protection.

In 2017, we continue our commitment to multidisciplinary professional development, kicking off a new series of Lunch & Learns on Jan. 17 with a talk on green roofs and decks.  A special thanks is due to our member-partners Dana Brown & Associates and Gaea Consulting as well as local chapters of the American Planning Association and American Institute of Architects.  With their help, we are able to offer continuing education credits for many of the presentations in the series.

Space is limited, however, so you must RSVP here to attend.


Water Entrepreneurs Wanted

Propeller is now accepting applications for Water Challenge 2017, which takes place on March 20 during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.  Water Challenge is open to startups and small businesses with big ideas for urban water, coastal environments, and water-based industries.  The winner will receive $15,000 in seed capital. To find out if your big idea qualifies,  attend one of the following Q & A sessions with Propeller staff:

  • Jan. 5, 12 p.m. RSVP
    Virtual meeting here.
  • Jan, 11th 12 p.m. RSVP
    Propeller, 4035 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA
  • Jan. 18, 5 p.m. RSVP
    Louisiana Technology Park, 7117 Florida Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Jan. 24, 4:30 p.m. RSVP
    Propeller, 4035 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA

If the Water Challenge isn’t right for you, consider Propeller’s Impact Accelerator program. Designed for businesses or nonprofits poised for growth in the next year, the program includes mentorship and training in business fundamentals. The deadline for applicants to receive feedback is Jan. 20; the final deadline is Feb. 9. To learn more, attend one of the following Q & A sessions:

  • Jan. 10, 5 p.m. RSVP
    Propeller, 4035 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA
  • Jan. 25, 5 p.m. RSVP
    Virtual meeting here
  • Feb. 2, 5 p.m. RSVP
    Propeller, 4035 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA

For more information, contact Ginny Hanusik, Water Program Manager, at ghanusik[at]

Millage renewals for drainage are vital to Orleans, Jefferson

By Elisa Speranza and Nathan Lott

Living at the juncture of the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico comes with specific needs. On Dec. 10, voters in Orleans and Jefferson parishes will be asked to renew existing millages that fund the operations and maintenance of drainage infrastructure. At 4.46 mills in Orleans and 6 mills in Jefferson, these equate to approximately $56 annually in Orleans and $75 in Jefferson for a primary residence assessed at $200,000. Informed voters will vote YES to continue these critical investments in safety and quality of life.

The rationale for funding drainage operations and maintenance through local property tax is straightforward: The value of your home is dependent on effective flood prevention, of which local drainage is a necessary component.

Much of the metro area is ringed by levees, which protect us from river flooding and storm surge. Rain that falls within the resulting “bowl” must exit in one of three ways: absorption into the soil, evaporation into the air, or pumping through a complex network of pipes and canals.

Readers may be aware of the “Living with Water” philosophy detailed in the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan. Architects, engineers and planning professionals throughout the region now agree that the safest, most cost-effective way to manage rainfall within the levees is to make greater use of green infrastructure. Green infrastructure can increase the amount of water absorbed and, to a lesser extent, evaporated, thereby relieving pressure on pipes, canals and pumps.

However, it is important to recognize that the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan calls for an integrated gray-green approach.  We strongly support expanding the use of green infrastructure, but the extreme August rains that caused flooding in and around Baton Rouge serve as a stark reminder why we need a robust drainage system to protect lives and property.

Green or gray, drainage systems require local operations and maintenance funding.  While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has spent billions on new culverts uptown and new pumps at the lakefront, it is employees of Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish who repair pipes and operate pumping stations. FEMA and HUD have helped finance green infrastructure investments in Gentilly and elsewhere, but it will be locals who monitor and maintain the new rain gardens and porous pavement.

Local investments translate into local jobs. The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans employees 300 of our neighbors to keep pumps and canals functioning as intended. Jefferson Parish has more than 280 employees doing similar work.

Ninety-seven percent of property owners in New Orleans saw their flood insurance rates reduced in 2016, at an average of $471 per policy. Those savings reflect FEMA’s confidence in the region’s drainage systems and the people who keep them running. Voters can show their confidence with a yes vote on Dec. 10.


New Orleans resident Elisa M. Speranza is a Senior Fellow with the U.S. Water Alliance. Nathan Lott is coordinator of the nonprofit Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative.

Holiday Social, Annual Meeting on Dec. 15

Join us to celebrate that year of positive impact on Thursday, December 15. All Water Collaborative members and friends are invited to gather at the Warehouse, 3014 Dauphine St., from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  We’ll have drinks, hors d’oeuvres and music on the rooftop! A brief Annual Meeting presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m., during which we will introduce the 2017 Steering Committee and unveil a special surprise! Please RSVP here.


The Water Collaborative’s Annual Meeting and Holiday Social is a time to celebrate the good work of our colleagues. During 2016, we launched a monthly professional development series, educated hundreds of our neighbors about the region’s hidden water wealth, and assisted local governments with policies to protect and leverage water resources. In their volunteer and profesional lives, Water Collaborative members contributed to federal resilience grants, spoke to national audiences at WEFTEC and ASLA, and helped fellow Louisinanans recover from devastating floods. Let’s take an evening to recognize all that we’ve achieved together.

Project Share examines coastal restoration on Nov. 16

Project Share is a peer-learning opportunity for members and colleagues of our Builders and Designers Working Group. Co-sponsored and hosted by our friends at Propeller, Project Share brings together water sector professionals to learn from one another. The first installment focused on what it takes to get green infrastructure projects funded, approved and built in New Orleans. The next installment, on Wednesday, November 16, looks at government and nonprofit projects to build wetlands and restore bottomland forest. See the flyer for details and be sure to RSVP, as space is limited.161112_flyerprojectshare

Mapping the Action for WATERFRONT 2016

This November, the members of Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative have planned events all across our region.  The event series, called WATERFRONT,  offers many ways to explore, learn and volunteer.  Use the map below to find events by location.  Click the pin icons for dates and details.   Find events listed chronologically and additional links here.

WATERFRONT 2016 Announced

This November, for the second year in row, Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative presents a month-long, water-themed event series.  Dubbed WATERFRONT, the event series invites you to explore water in and around our communities.  Check out the events here.  There is something for everyone!




Oct. 19 Community Conversation on Sea-Level Rise, Wetlands Loss and Restoration


Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, the document that guides efforts to restore our vanishing coast, is due for an update next year. Help guide that process by joining a Community Conversation on Wed., Oct. 19, 5 p.m. at Dillard University.  The event is open to the public and dinner will be provided. Please RSVP to

Coastal restoration works in tandem with urban water management to create “multiple lines of defense” for our communities against storms and flooding. You may have seen recent news reports about the accelerated rate of relative sea-level rise threatening Louisiana. This is your chance to hear from state scientists and engineers what they predict for our coast and how we can respond.  It’s critical that state policymakers receive public input as well as public support in the effort to protect our city and coast.

Walk-and-Learn, Art Show Oct. 15 for Anba Dlo Festival

river-city-ii-flyerFor the second year in a row, Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative hosts a River & City walk-and-learn tour as part of the Anba Dlo Halloween Festival.  The 10 a.m. tour will include Crescent Park, the Groundwork Nola Earthlab, and speakers from the Port of New Orleans. It begins and ends at the Healing Center, 2372 St. Claude Ave. Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen.  Following the tour, there will be a student exhibit and performance featuring Jefferson Performing Arts Society’s Cultural Crossroads program and Louisiana Young Artists and Young Actors (LAYAYA). The students will present works inspired by their encounters with Louisiana wetlands and waterways.

Also: You won’t want to miss the pre-festival symposium on Oct. 13 at 5:30 p.m.  Speakers will delve into the question of how to manage the Mississippi River for restoration and commerce in an era of  of coastal lanloss and climate change.

Tour the Eastbank Purification Plant Sept. 19

water-fountain-875_cdc-creditYou bathe in it, drink it and cook with it, but do you know where your water comes from? Join Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative for a behind the scenes tour of the Sewerage and Water Board’s Carrollton Drinking Water Plant, Sept. 19 at 10:30 a.m. You must RSVP (see below).

Date: Monday, September 19, 2016

Time: 10:30 AM -11:30 AM. Arrive 5-10 minutes before to allow time to check in with photo id to security.

Location: 8800 S. Claiborne Ave. Park in the visitors’ parking lot (with the American flag pole in the middle) and check in with reception at 1935 Eagle Street. It is the white building with a green roof closest S. Claiborne.

What:   Chad LaVoie, Water Purification Senior Manager, will give a tour of the water purification plant and explain the purification process from start to finish. Questions welcome!

RSVP: Please RSVP via eventbrite. You will receive a security screening form, which must be returned in advance.

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