NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and City officials to commemorate the completion of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority’s new pilot rain garden at 5302 Wildair Drive in the Filmore neighborhood. This demonstration project is designed to collect, temporarily store, and clean up to 89,000 gallons of rainwater and allow it to gradually flow into the City’s drainage system. Rain gardens mitigate flooding risk and help reduce subsidence. This is the first project connected to the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan which provides a long-term urban water management plan for Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard parishes.
“Today, we welcome EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to New Orleans to discuss the importance of resiliency which requires planning for the future and investment,” Mayor Landrieu said. “Over eight years ago, we learned hard lessons from Hurricane Katrina and today, we are committed to build back smarter and stronger. NORA’s pilot rain garden program is the perfect example of how we are learning to once again live with water. As we continue to rebuild our city, innovative water management strategies, including the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, will be at the forefront. We have an opportunity to create a template for water management that can serve as an international model for resiliency."
“New Orleans' Urban Water Plan recognizes the need to ‘live with water’ in an urban environment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Innovative green infrastructure solutions like the pilot rain barrel project safeguard drinking water and help build resilience to costly floods, extreme weather, and other shocks to the water system made worse by climate change.”
The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) is committed to its role as a steward of vacant properties. This lot is part of a demonstration project that enhances selected vacant properties using plants native to Southeast Louisiana in order to beautify neighborhoods and reduce flooding by capturing rainwater onsite. These improvements demonstrate how vacant properties can become assets in stabilizing New Orleans neighborhoods and how New Orleanians can ‘live with water.’
The sidewalk has been cut to allow water to flow from the gutter onto the site, where it is temporarily stored after heavy rains. This diverts the stormwater from the city’s strained drainage system, and helps to reduce local flooding and subsidence (the slow sinking of the land that occurs when soils underground dry out). As a result of this improvement, the site can now provide space for 89,000 gallons of water to be temporarily stored. The site has been designed to drain water within 48 hours so that it will not attract mosquitos.
The 11,100 square foot site has been planted with 129 native trees and shrubs including bald cypress trees, spider irises, dwarf palmettos, and muhly grasses.
This rain garden project is aligned with the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, a vision for long-term urban water management in Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard parishes. The Plan provides a roadmap for improving management of flood and subsidence threats, while creating economic value and enhancing quality of life.
NORA Executive Director Jeff Hebert said, “Through the pilot rain garden program, NORA is committed to repurposing open lots, beautifying neighborhoods, mitigating flooding risks and increasing water quality. We are proud to be an EPA Urban Waters Federal Partnership community where local and federal partners are working together to restore and revitalize urban waterways.”
Total cost for the rain garden was $38,498 with funding coming from NORA through a HUD Neighborhood Initiatives Grant. The rain garden was designed by Dana Brown & Associates and constructed by Professional Grounds Maintenance. The Filmore Gardens Neighborhood Association will serve as the community partner in helping to maintain the rain garden.