Water Wise NOLA: Global Green working with residents and designers & architects to solve critical water issues in New Orleans

Water Wise NOLA is a group of water professionals (Dana Brown and Associates, Hilairie Schackai, Amy Stelly, Water Works) and concerned citizens working together to promote simple solutions to the problem of localized flooding, subsidence and poor water quality.  Global Green is a part of this group and is dedicated to working with residents to tackle water issues in their neighborhoods.  Funding is provided by the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, EPA and the Foundation for Louisiana’s Equity Caucus.

As we all know, New Orleans is a unique place and when we speak about 'resiliency,' these unique characteristics can be both challenging and empowering.  The stormwater infrastructure in New Orleans is extensive and since several neighborhoods sit below sea level, it is necessary for keeping us mostly dry.  However, by solely relying on the grey infrastructure alone, we are leaving room for ongoing situations or one-time events that decrease the quality of life.   For example, the drainage system backs up if there is a storm that produces rainfall rates of an inch or more per hour.  Once the drainage system backs up, streets, cars and houses can flood.  Storms like these happen at least once a year in New Orleans.

Flooded bus stop due to a spring time thunderstorm

Flooded bus stop due to a spring time thunderstorm

Other ongoing situations occur with our current method for managing water- neighborhoods sink further below sea level, streets crack and potholes open up, untreated stormwater adds pollutants to Lake Pontchartrain, etc. 

To address these issues, Water Wise NOLA is working in neighborhoods who are feeling the full effects of poor water management.  At its core, Water Wise NOLA is truly dedicated to educating residents about taking action to manage water more wisely by incorporating green infrastructure techniques on their property.   We do this through workshops in different neighborhoods, tabling at community events, presenting at neighborhood association meetings and performing residential stormwater assessments.  It is also critical to demonstrate how to install these techniques.  We have hosted rain barrel builds and even demonstrated how to build a raingarden.  Ultimately, the goal of the program is to develop a cohort of residents who want to take action at their home or in their neighborhood. 

Water Wise NOLA has tabled or presented at 90+ community events. 

Rain Barrel Build at Stallings Playground, May 2015

Rain Barrel Build at Stallings Playground, May 2015

Water Wise NOLA has held a workshop in the following neighborhoods: Pontilly, Hollygrove, Treme/Lafitte, 7th Ward, Gentilly, Central City and the Lower 9th Ward.  By the end of 2015, we will also hold a workshop in Mid-City, Algiers, Broadmoor and another in Gentilly. 

Water Wise NOLA has held 4 rain barrel builds at The Treme Community Gardens, Angela Chalk’s house, Stallings Playground and Global Green’s Holy Cross Project. 

Water Wise NOLA led a demonstration project with 7th Ward resident, Angela Chalk, to install a raingarden on her property.  Cheryl Austin, long time Treme Resident and President of the Greater Treme Consortium, is working with Water Wise NOLA to do a beautification and water management project along N Robertson Street in Treme.

Angela Chalk and her family in front of her raingarden at a celebration party to thank the KIPP Central City Student and Groundworks Green Team for their help on building the garden.

Angela Chalk and her family in front of her raingarden at a celebration party to thank the KIPP Central City Student and Groundworks Green Team for their help on building the garden.

The educational series provided by Global Green and Water Wise NOLA has empowered my neighbors with a better understanding of what is wise water management.  It has spurred neighbors whether homeowner or renter to install planter boxes; install rain gardens or install french drains. My neighbors are now speaking the lingo. They can speak about french drains, bio-swales and water sheds. The importance of managing storm water is no longer an abstract event that occurs somewhere else. It is happening right here in the 7th Ward.
Thanks Global Green!
— Angela M. Chalk; Vice President, 7th Ward Neighborhood Association, New Orleans, LA