Author: Nathan Lott (page 3 of 8)

Members meeting Feb. 2

If you are a member of the Water Collaborative or interested in volunteering with us, please make plans to attend our All Hands meeting on Feb. 2. Held at the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Center for Philanthropy, 919 St. Charles Avenue, this a great opportunity to meet activists and volunteers from all the working groups that make up the Water Collaborative. The meeting runs 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with free parking available. We’ll discuss exciting program opportunities in 2017 and the ways each of us can contribute. Together, we are growing the water sector for sustainability, safety and stewardship across the region!

Living with water in the Cities of the Dead

Jan. 29 Walk & Learn examines cemeteries and water management


Join us for a special, Sunday afternoon walk-and-learn tour of New Orleans cemeteries, 1 p.m. Jan. 29, led by Emily Ford of Oak and Laurel Cemetery Preservation, LLC. Emily specializes in the repair and restoration of New Orleans’ iconic tombs and mausoleums. While our cemeteries are among the area’s most popular destinations for tourists as well as locals, they are also left exposed to the elements and subjected to neglect. When tombs suffer damage, water is often the culprit.  Years of paving worsen the situation in some cemeteries.  However, there are solutions.

This half-mile walking tour, which will last approximately 1.5 hours, begins at Dispersed of Judah Cemetery, 4937 Canal St.  Be sure to dress comfortably in sturdy footwear. Cemeteries are historic and civic sites of particular significance to many.  Please arrive prepared to approach them with respect. Find more details and RSVP via Facebook.

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.

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