"Many areas in St. Bernard Parish and the east banks of Orleans and Jefferson parishes depend on a large-scale pumping system susceptible to failure even during normal rainfall, resulting in flooding that divides these neighborhoods," said Paul Rainwater, Louisiana Commissioner of Administration. "Additional threats, such as subsidence and rising sea levels, also contribute to the need for a solution-based approach to an integrated water management strategy that is vital to the continued recovery, growth, and development of the region."
GNO, Inc. invited experienced, multi-disciplinary teams to submit proposals for this initiative through a competitive bidding process that included a selection committee consisting of parish officials and experts in engineering, planning and design, community engagement, environmental sustainability, and flood protection.
"Due to the geography and topography of the Greater New Orleans region, water management is an important issue for businesses and residents in our area," said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of GNO, Inc. "Waggonner & Ball has proven experience in research, interpretation and modeling, policy, infrastructure, design, and implementation. We expect the consultant team to produce a valuable and implementable strategy based on international best practices, and we congratulate them for earning this contract."
The announcement coincides with the 19th annual World Water Day. Held each year on March 22, World Water Day focuses attention on the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme for 2011 is "Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge." The United Nations General Assembly designated March 22, 1993 as the first World Water Day.
"It is critical that the Greater New Orleans region has a comprehensive water management plan that can mitigate risk while enhancing economic opportunities and improving the quality of life for our citizens," said Senator Mary Landrieu. "We are fortunate to have a dream team in place to do this important work. Waggonner & Ball has extensive expertise in water management gleaned from projects that span the globe, and GNO, Inc. is uniquely positioned to manage the process efficiently."
"We offer our support to Waggonner & Ball in developing a wide-ranging approach to effective water management and planning in order to protect our precious natural resource," said Jefferson Parish President John Young. "We are committed to open, transparent and collaborative input and improving the overall quality of life for all our citizens."
"New Orleans is the most immediate laboratory for innovation in America, so it is appropriate that this initiative will look to the entrepreneurship of our people to find new solutions to systemic water management challenges," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "It's important for our safety and quality of life."
"Having the proper water management strategy is a critical issue for St. Bernard and beyond," said St. Bernard Parish President Craig P. Taffaro, Jr. "I look forward to working in cooperation with Waggonner & Ball in any way needed. This initiative will fit very nicely into the parishes' land-use planning and long-term alternate use concepts of our drainage waterways.. Finding ways to use our water ways as assets is a part of changing the approach to water management as a whole for St. Bernard Parish and the metropolitan area."
With the implementation of the Water Management Strategy, GNO, Inc. has the following goals:
- Reduce flood hazards to people and property
- Use storm water as a resource
- Increase flexibility and adaptive water management capacity
- Enable better ground water management and minimize soil subsidence
- Reduce costs, energy use, and emissions of water management infrastructure
- Protect and improve environmental quality and sustainability, and well being of open water and habitats
An effective Water Management Strategy will also accrue public benefits, increase quality of life, incorporate sustainability and environmental concerns, and provide a platform for economic growth.
"We are honored to be selected to develop a Water Management Strategy for the Greater New Orleans region," said J. David Waggonner, III, FAIA, Waggonner & Ball President. "The Royal Netherlands Embassy and the American Planning Association have been key partners in our approach, and we look forward to working with our team of local, national, and international collaborators. Water can be New Orleans' greatest asset, and the Water Management Strategy will provide a process by which to re-imagine our region's relationship to this fundamental resource."
Waggonner & Ball is a highly respected architectural and planning firm with 30 years of experience working in the Greater New Orleans region. Waggonner & Ball will be responsible for reporting to GNO, Inc. on the progress of the project through completion. GNO, Inc. will manage the implementation of the grant with the support and guidance of an Advisory Council consisting of representatives from Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Bernard parishes, as well as experts in the fields of water management, design, planning, and community engagement