Urban Water Plan Wins National Environmental Planning Award

The New Orleans Urban Water Plan has been named winner of the American Planning Association’s (APA) 2015 National Planning Excellence Award for Environmental Planning, an accolade that celebrates efforts to create greener communities that reduce the impact of development on the natural environment and improve environmental quality.

Filmore Raingarden

The New Orleans Urban Water Plan has been named winner of the American Planning Association’s 2015 National Planning Excellence Award for Environmental Planning, an accolade that celebrates efforts to create greener communities that reduce the impact of development on the natural environment and improve environmental quality.

Developed through international collaboration, the New Orleans Urban Water Plan is a resilience planning study to develop sustainable water management blueprints and procedures, which will also double as a set of guidelines for public and private investments in the following 50 years. The plan was created through the 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation program, a global network of cities developing resilience strategies and sharing innovative strategies. It draws on Dutch cities’ experience and know-how on living with water. Waggonner & Ball Architects piloted the plan’s creation.

The New Orleans Urban Water Plan targets 155 square miles of urban areas and 69 square miles of protected wetlands within St. Bernard Parish and the East Banks of Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The plan looks to reduce risk of flooding and environmental impact as well as introduce responsible resource management. It centers on managing water resources within levees—such as storm, surface and groundwater—by a multipronged approach that includes urban design reflecting the area’s biodiversity, water and soil, existing urban design and infrastructure, and regional planning. The New Orleans Urban Water Plan is the first regional water plan in the U.S. that takes this approach.

“Our plan signals a paradigm shift in water management, from a complete reliance on fighting water to finding ways to live with water while addressing soil stability and groundwater issues, all to create a base for sustained investment,” said David Waggonner, principal of Waggonner & Ball Architects.

The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority has developed several pilot projects to start implementing the plan in the city. The Lower Ninth Ward, Hollygrove, Gentilly, Algiers and Navarre are some of New Orleans’ targeted areas where the plan will kick off on a small scale through pilot projects targeting neighborhood revitalization and storm water detainment. Further projects will follow under the partnerships between NORA and community-based organizations.

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Image credit: New Orleans Redevelopment Authority