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April 7, 2015

Media Contact:  Mary Beth Romig

                                 Director of Communications

                                 504.658.4450

                                 mbromig@nola.gov

GREATER NEW ORLEANS URBAN WATER PLAN RECEIVES NATIONAL PLANNING AWARD FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING

Urban Water Plan, Developed Through International Collaboration, Serves as Inspiration for
New Orleans Redevelopment Authority Projects Focused on Water Management

NEW ORLEANS, LA – The Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan will receive the American Planning Association’s (APA) 2015 National Planning Excellence Award for Environmental Planning. The Environmental Planning Award honors efforts to create greener communities that reduce the impact of development on the natural environment and improve environmental quality.

The Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan is a resilience planning study to develop sustainable strategies for managing the water resources of St. Bernard and the East Banks of Jefferson and Orleans Parishes. Funded by a HUD Disaster Recovery Community Development Block Grant through the State of Louisiana’s Office of Community Development, the study covers 155 square miles of urban areas and 69 square miles of protected wetlands.

 “As we work to reduce our flood risk, manage our resources more responsibly, and reduce our impact on the environment, the Urban Water Plan provides a vision for our entire region,” said Jeff Hebert, the City’s Chief Resilience Officer and Executive Director of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA). “The plan is not only an inspiration to us in the New Orleans region but also to many delta cities around the world that face similar risks and challenges.”  

The City of New Orleans, through its engagement with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation – is part of a global network of cities developing comprehensive resilience strategies and sharing innovative solutions. The Urban Water Plan is an example of how a global exchange can enhance cities’ expertise since it borrows insight from Dutch cities and provides a model to other cities seeking to learn about New Orleans’ strategies.

“Survival on the Mississippi River Delta requires constant awareness of the forces of water, with multiple lines of defense to protect against high water, hurricanes, and intense rainfall,” said David Waggonner, principal of Waggonner & Ball Architects, the firm that led the plan’s creation. “This award recognizes that 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.”

The plan focuses on a new approach to managing the water resources within the levees, primarily storm water, surface waters and groundwater. It outlines principles for water management, regional planning, and urban design that take into consideration the region’s soils, water and biodiversity; existing infrastructure networks; and the urban fabric.

This is the first regional water plan of its kind in the U.S., integrating infrastructure planning, land use planning and urban design at a regional scale. It also provides a framework for guiding public and private investments for the next 50 years.

“This plan presents the opportunity to enhance quality of life and economic vitality by learning to live and work with water rather than simply defending against it. We congratulate Waggonner & Ball and the entire Urban Water Plan team for their vision,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “As we approach the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, this important award recognizes Greater New Orleans as a leader in the Emerging Environmental industry, including the water sector, and underscores regional progress in building long-term resilience in Southeast Louisiana. “

The Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan has served as a valuable inspiration and foundation for a variety of local efforts in creating a more resilient and sustainable city. To begin implementing the principles of the plan at a small scale, NORA has developed pilot projects that detain storm water and support neighborhood revitalization in Gentilly, the Lower Ninth Ward, Navarre,  Algiers, and Hollygrove, and is currently developing several more projects throughout the City in partnership with community-based organizations.

 “Our goal at NORA is to participate in the larger effort to find ways to live with water that make us safer, improve our neighborhoods, attract reinvestment in our city, and enhance our quality of life,” said Hebert. 

"This award recognizes what we have long known - that New Orleans is now on the forefront of resilient urban planning, and is getting better each day. We are thrilled that New Orleans is being recognized on the national stage for their water planning,” said Bryna Lipper, Vice President for Relationships at 100RC. “Instead of reinventing the wheel, New Orleans’ collaboration with Rotterdam has helped the city develop innovative, resilient water strategies. This is the kind of innovative, global partnership that 100RC aims to achieve.”

“We are very proud that New Orleans’ Urban Water Plan is receiving this award,” said Arnoud Molenaar, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Rotterdam. “New Orleans and Rotterdam show the world how delta cities can work together to share their knowledge and best practices. With a focus on ‘water inclusive spatial design’ we are confident that the Urban Water Plan contributes to both a climate resilient and more attractive New Orleans.”

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The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority is a catalyst for the revitalization of the city, partnering in strategic developments that celebrate the city’s neighborhoods and honor its traditions.

Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, 100 Resilient Cities is helping New Orleans become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.  

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