New Orleans is a city unlike any other.
From our food, to our music, to our festivals, no other place on earth does things quite like the Big Easy. For better or worse, our insistence on standing out extends to our dynamic and ever-changing relationship with water.
As executive director of the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans, I am consistently confronted with the unique challenges of managing water in a city plagued by aging infrastructure, encroaching coastline, huge average rainfalls and aggressive subsidence.
While these challenges aren’t necessarily exclusive to New Orleans — and in fact are being confronted with increased severity and frequency by cities around the world — there are nuances and subtleties to our particular water context that few other cities face.
Over the course of my tenure at S&WB, I have seen extraordinary momentum across the New Orleans community to both leverage the efforts of my agency and challenge the status quo to bring our system to new heights. Using the catalytic Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan as a guiding blueprint, , we have committed $500,000 a year to new green infrastructure pilot programs. Having engaged nationally and internationally to share the complexities of the New Orleans water landscape, it is clear that creative and multifaceted approaches to our unique challenges are critical, and that in adopting diverse approaches, New Orleans is emerging as a global leader and innovator in the water sphere.
Building on the paradigm shift underway at S&WB is a new inclusion of diverse partners — both locally and internationally.
Recognizing that civic understanding of our unique water challenges is paramount, S&WB has entered into an agreement with the city of New Orleans and the Greater New Orleans Foundation to educate the public and various stakeholders on benefits of stormwater management and green infrastructure.
Additionally, we have built on our long-standing partnership with the Dutch and entered into an agreement with Deltares USA — an independent water resources organization — to utilize new technologies to monitor groundwater and subsidence, providing our agency with a new realm of data to inform our decision-making and investments. This, in conjunction with our Integrated Infrastructure Management Strategy and cooperation with the New Orleans Resilience Office, has allowed us to lead this important work in our city.
Through advancing new frontiers and embracing new partners, the current overhaul of our city’s infrastructure will not only solidify basic amenities and services for generations to come, but will also integrate new innovations, standards for water management, and develop a localized expertise in water management.
I am proud to be a part of this new day for New Orleans.
Cedric S. Grant
executive director, Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans