Stormwater, Zoning & Development Workshop: Tuesday, Sept. 16th 5:30pm Propeller

Hope to see you there!

Workshop Title: Stormwater and the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance

Date & Time: Tuesday, September 16th, 5:30 - 7:00 PM

Audience: Propeller invites developers, planners, architects, construction professionals, and interested community members to attend our upcoming workshop on stormwater regulations for the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO). Join us to learn about how changes to the CZO will affect development in New Orleans.

- Dale Thayer, Senior City Planner, City Planning Commission
- Louis Jackson, Senior Project Manager, CDM Smith
- Elizabeth Mossop, Director, Spackman Mossop and Michaels
- Rick Dupont, Director of Research and New Initiatives, Woodward Design+Build
- Townsend Underhill, Development Director, Stirling Properties

I. Welcome and Introductions
II. Overview of Draft CZO process and Article 23. Landscape, Stormwater Management, & Screening
III. CZO Engineering Requirements
IV. CZO Landscape Architecture Requirements
V. CZO Impacts on Local Development
VI.CZO Impacts
VII. Discussion and Questions


Rapid erosion of Louisiana coast only expected to accelerate | NewOrleansNews | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, LA

This is one of the most important articles ever written about coastal issues in Louisiana. Please share widely! Thank you to Bob Marshall, The Lens, and everyone involved in producing this work. 

Rapid erosion of Louisiana coast only expected to accelerate

This story is condensed from a broad multimedia presentation produced by the nonprofit newsrooms of The Lens and ProPublica. The full version is available at

Online, you can track land loss from satellite and aerial images dating back, in some cases, to the 1930s and see the vast network of levees, oil and gas canals and other energy infrastructure.

Beyond the loss of actual land, the presentation looks at the cultural loss that Louisiana is suffering as our coast disappears. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bob Marshall focuses on distinct areas of the coast that are edging toward oblivion and open water, complete with interactive maps and audio presentations.

Louisiana is drowning, quickly.

In just 80 years, 2,000 square miles of its coastal landscape have become open water, wiping places off maps, bringing the Gulf of Mexico to the back door of New Orleans and posing a lethal threat to an energy and shipping corridor vital to the nation’s economy.

And it’s going to get worse, even quicker.

Scientists now say one of the greatest environmental and economic disasters in the nation’s history is rushing toward a catastrophic conclusion, unabated and largely unnoticed.

At the rates that the sea is rising and land is sinking, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists say that by 2100, the Gulf of Mexico could rise by as much as 4.3 feet across this landscape, which has an average elevation of about 3 feet. If that happens, everything unprotected by levees — most of southeast Louisiana — would be under water.

This land being lost is home to half of the country’s oil refineries, a matrix of pipelines that serve 90 percent of the nation’s offshore energy production and 30 percent of its total oil and gas supply. It is a port vital to 31 states. And for 2 million people, it’s simply home.

The crisis has been speeding along for decades, but at first, even those who work or play in the marshes didn’t appreciate the gradual changes. In an ecosystem covering thousands of square miles, a wider bayou here or a piece of eroded land there seemed insignificant.

Now residents are trying to deal with the shock of losing places they had known all their lives — fishing camps, cypress swamps, beachfronts, cattle pastures and backyards.

Fishing guide Ryan Lambert is one of them. When he started fishing out of Buras 34 years ago, he had to travel 6 miles to reach the Gulf of Mexico.

“Now it’s all open water,” Lambert said. “You can stand on the dock and see the Gulf.”

Two years ago, NOAA removed 31 bays and other features from the Buras charts. Some had been named by French explorers in the 1700s.

The people who knew this land when it was rich with wildlife and dotted with Spanish- and French-speaking villages are getting old. They say their grandchildren don’t understand what has been lost.

“I see what was,” said Lloyd “Wimpy” Serigne, who grew up in the fishing and trapping village of Delacroix, 20 miles southeast of New Orleans. “People today — like my nephew, he’s pretty young — he sees what is.”

If this trend is not reversed, a wetlands ecosystem that took nature 7,000 years to build will be destroyed in a human lifetime.

The story of how that happened is a tale of levees, oil wells and canals leading to destruction on a scale almost too big to comprehend — and perhaps too late to rebuild.

Engineering the river

For communities along its banks, the Mississippi River has always been an indispensable asset and the gravest of threats. The river connected their economies to the world, but its spring floods periodically breached locally built levees, washing away years of profits and scores of lives. Some towns were so dependent on the river, they simply got used to rebuilding.

That all changed with the Great Flood of 1927, when the Mississippi broke through levees in 145 places, flooding the midsection of the country from Illinois to New Orleans. Some 27,000 square miles went under as much as 30 feet of water, destroying 130,000 homes, leaving 600,000 people homeless and killing 500.

Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1928, which ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent such a flood from ever happening again. By the mid-1930s, the Corps had done its job, putting the river in a straitjacket of levees.

But the project that made the river safe for the communities along the river would eventually squeeze the life out of the river’s delta. The mud walls along the river sealed it off from the landscape sustained by its sediment.

If that were all we had done to the delta, scientists have said, the wetlands that existed in the 1930s could largely be intact today. The natural pace of sinking — scientists call it subsidence — would have been millimeters per year.

But we didn’t stop there. Just as those levees were built, a nascent oil and gas industry discovered plentiful reserves below. Oil companies dredged canals off natural waterways to transport rigs and crews. The canals averaged 13 to 16 feet deep and 140 to 150 feet wide — far larger than natural, twisting waterways.

Eventually, 50,000 wells were permitted in the coastal zone. Conservative estimates say 10,000 miles of canals were dredged to service them.

Such drilling and dredging happened so extensively in an area near Lafitte, it became known as the Texaco Canals.

“Once the oil companies come in and started dredging all the canals, everything just started falling apart,” said Joseph Bourgeois, 84, who grew up and still lives in the area.

From 1930 to 1990, as much as 16 percent of the wetlands was turned to open water as those canals were dredged. But as the U.S. Department of the Interior and many others have reported, the indirect damages far exceeded that:

    Saltwater crept in, killing plants and trees whose roots held the soils together.

    Shorelines crumbled without fresh sediment and dead plants, increasing the size of existing water bodies.

    “Spoil levees” buried wetlands. When companies dredged canals, they dumped the removed soil alongside. The weight of the spoil on the soft, moist delta caused the adjacent marshes to sink.

All of this disrupted the delta’s natural circulatory system and led to the drowning of vast areas. Research has shown that land has sunk and wetlands have disappeared the most in the areas where canals were concentrated.

As the water expanded, people lived and worked on narrower and narrower slivers of land.

“There’s places where I had cattle pens, and built those pens … with a tractor that weighed 5,000 or 6,000 pounds,” said Earl Armstrong, a cattle rancher who grew up on the river 9 miles south of the nearest road. “Right now, we run through there with airboats.”

A U.S. Department of Interior report says oil and gas canals are ultimately responsible for 30 to 59 percent of coastal land loss.

More damage was done when drilling moved offshore in the late 1930s because companies needed pipelines to get oil and gas onshore. So they dug wider, deeper waterways to accommodate both the pipelines and the large ships that served the platforms.

Congress authorized the Corps of Engineers to dredge about 550 miles of navigation channels through the wetlands. The Department of Interior has estimated that those canals, averaging 12 to 15 feet deep and 150 to 500 feet wide, resulted in the loss of an additional 576 square miles of coastal land.

By 2000, coastal roads that had flooded only during major hurricanes were going underwater when high tides coincided with strong southerly winds. Islands and beaches that had been landmarks for lifetimes were gone, lakes had turned into bays, and bays had eaten through their borders to join the Gulf.

“It happened so fast, I could actually see the difference day to day, month to month,” said Lambert, the fishing guide in Buras.

Maps illustrating what the state will look like in 2100 under current projections show the bottom of Louisiana’s “boot” outline largely gone, replaced by a coast running practically straight east to west, starting just south of Baton Rouge.

Plan to rebuild, but no money

Similar predictions had been made for years, but it took Hurricane Katrina to finally galvanize the state Legislature, which pushed through a far-reaching coastal restoration plan in 2007.

The 50-year, $50 billion Master Plan for the Coast includes projects to build levees, pump sediment into sinking areas and build massive diversions on the river to reconnect it with the dying delta.

The state’s computer projections show that by 2060 — if projects are completed on schedule — more land could be built annually than is lost to the Gulf.

But there are three large caveats: The state is still searching for the full $50 billion; if sea-level rise is as bad as the worst-case scenario, the projects may not do the job; and building sediment diversions on the river, a key part of the land-building strategy, has never been done before.

Some of the money will come from an increased share of offshore oil and gas royalties, but many coastal advocates say the industry should pay a larger share.

Kyle Graham, executive director of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, said recently that the industry understands its liability for the crumbling coast and is discussing some kind of settlement.

“It’s very difficult to see a future in which that (such an agreement) isn’t there,” he said.

Graham has said current funding sources could keep the restoration plan on schedule only through 2019. He was blunt when talking about what would happen if more money doesn’t come through: There will be a smaller coast.

“There are various sizes of a sustainable coastal Louisiana,” he said. “And that could depend on how much our people are willing to put up for that.”

A vanishing culture

Trying to keep pace with the vanishing pieces of southeast Louisiana today is like chasing the sunset; it’s a race that never ends.

Signs of the impending death of this delta are there for any visitor to see.

Pelicans circle in confusion over nesting islands that have washed away since spring.

Pilings that held weekend camps surrounded by thick marshes a decade ago stand in open water — mute testimony to a vanishing culture.

Shrimpers push their wing nets in lagoons that were land five years ago.

The bare trunks of long-dead oaks rise from the marsh, tombstones marking the sinking of sediment-starved ridges.

“If you’re a young person, you think this is what it’s supposed to look like,” Lambert said. “Then when you’re old enough to know, it’s too late.”

Parkway Partners Green Keepers Educational Series: How Green Infrastructure Works!

Parkway Partners is pleased to announce its exciting new initiative,
Green Keepers, an educational series offering instruction to New Orleanians so they can better understand how green infrastructure works, and their role in using these practices to most effectively live with stormwater, rather than in spite of it.


For the Green Keepers schedule and more details, click this LINK.

This series is FREE and open to the public.  Registration is limited so register TODAY!  See our Green Keepers webpage for more information.

Please email Susannah Burley with questions, or call 504 620 2224.
Many thanks to the Sewerage & Water of New Orleans for funding this educational series through their Green Infrastructure Initiative!

Panel to Discuss Financing of the $50 billion Coastal Master Plan at Loyola on Wednesday, August 20th from 6-8pm


•Mark Davis, Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy
•John Driscoll, Corporate Planning Resources
•Kyle Graham, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
•Douglas J. Meffert, Audubon Louisiana/National Audubon Society
•Steve Murchie, Gulf Restoration Network
•John Snell, WVUE/Fox 8 Moderator

When: Wednesday, Aug. 20 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Loyola University, Miller Hall 114  Light refreshments will be served.

Questions:   or (504) 258-1624  

You’re invited: Join us to talk about the cost of restoring our coast and who will pay

By Anne Mueller, Development director    July 23, 2014 2:

The Lens, with sponsorship from the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, is hosting a panel discussion on the financing of the $50 billion coastal master plan at Loyola University, Wednesday, Aug. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The story we published on that subject generated a lot of discussion and concern, which helped lead to this event.

While much of the discussion about the master plan lately has revolved around implementation — in particular the pros and cons of river diversions — without funding, it’s all academic. Our panel discussion will expand the conversation.

This event is designed to send the audience home with a solid understanding of how to restore our coast.  An example of questions we plan to address include the following:

1.How far can we go on the current master plan with the funding in place as well as future funding the state believes it can count on?

2.What will happen to the scope of the master plan, and the coast, if we don’t secure funding sources beyond that date?

3.What are the chances Congress will step up in the next decade and provide substantial funding?

4.What are alternative sources of money?

5.What can you do to help with this challenge?

To learn more about the issue, we invite you to read these articles:

Coastal restoration financing is uncertain, but Louisiana has ideas to find $50 billion

Has state found strategy to hold Corp of Engineers responsible for coastal erosion?

As Lawsuits proliferate, will Big Oil join in a ‘grand bargin’ to save the coast?

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call

New Orleans community groups, water board, get $338,000 in EPA water quality grants |

Years of efforts finally paying off. Congrats to all the water people who’ve worked so hard to change the way we live with water!

New Orleans community groups, water board, get $338,000 in EPA water quality grants

Water-retaining planter box

Five New Orleans environmental and community groups and the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board will receive grants totaling more than $338,000 to address water issues, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday (July 17).

The grants are aimed at educating the public about reduced pollutants in Lake Pontchartrain, assuring that rainwater runoff retention projects help reduce pollutants carried by rainfall to the lake, and assuring those projects don't help breed mosquitoes.

They're among $2.08 million in grants awarded to 36 organizations in 17 states and Puerto Rico for similar water environment projects.

"Restoration of Lake Pontchartrain and its waterways will improve public health, provide additional recreational opportunities and boost the local economy," said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry, in news releases announcing the grants. "Work by grant awardees and partner state agencies makes certain the lake continues to benefit our communities for many years to come."

Global Green stormwater workshops

Global Green USA, in partnership with Water Works and Dana Brown and Associates, will receive $46,884 to conduct neighborhood workshops to introduce homeowners to cost-effective, do-it-yourself stormwater best management practices they can install themselves.

The program also will include tours of sites showcasing watershed protection and management through the use of green infrastructure. The tours will focus on examples of best management practices including some included in the city's Urban Waters Management Plan.

"We've brought together a team of scientists, landscape architects and community leaders who are committed to educating flood-prone communities on do-it-yourself green infrastructure," said Global Green USA president and chief executive Les McCabe in a news release announcing the grant.

The best management practices could include planter boxes that use layers of soil, gravel and sand to hold rainwater from downspouts. The boxes could be made from recycled materials, such as old wooden barrels, or bath tubs, and could contain layers to help absorb and clean water.

Another alternative is a French drain, a long, narrow, gravel-filled ditch that catches and treats stormwater runoff. The trenches can be used in narrow spaces along buildings and driveways, and for receiving water from downspouts.

The trench allows water to infiltrate into deeper soil while the gravel traps pollutant and sediment and reduces peak water flows.

Global Green USA is the American affiliate of Green Cross International, which promotes sustainability, and is a leader in promoting green building practices.

Lake Pontchartrain health, safety, focus of grant

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation will receive $60,000 to help revitalize the New Orleans lakefront along Lake Pontchartrain, including a three-mile stretch of Pontchartrain Beach.

Foundation executive director John Lopez said the money will be aimed at educating New Orleans residents on issues involving the use of the lakefront, including swim safety issues and how the lake's water quality has improved.

The education program will also be aimed at the city's growing Hispanic community, Lopez said.

The south shore of the lake has been delisted as dangerous for swimming on the basis of bacterial contamination since 2006, in part because of weekly monitoring sponsored by the foundation.

However, Pontchartrain Beach, located just north of the University of New Orleans campus and controlled by the university, is still not officially open for swimming – in part because of concerns about safety.

Lopez said he hopes the education program funded by the grant will speed its reopening.

"This will be part of our 'Enjoy Our Lake' program," Lopez said. "We want to see people enjoy and use the lake."

The program will also focus on safety issues involving the remaining part of the city's lakefront, which is bordered by a stairstep concrete floodwall

The steps often are slippery and erosion holes just offshore can be dangerous to those who don't know how to swim.

The foundation also will publish a "Guide to the Southshore Lakefront" to promote safe recreation and tell the story of the lake's recovery. As the growing Hispanic community is discovering the lakefront, new literature and signage will be published in Spanish and English.

Lower 9th Ward's Green Slice to expand

Groundwork New Orleans will use its $60,000 grant to expand its Green Slice project in the Lower 9th Ward, a stretch of Caffin Avenue between Bayou Bienvenue and the Mississippi River that is being redesigned to explain how neighborhood-level watershed and habitat design can reduce susceptibility to flooding.

The project is installing low-impact stormwater retrofits and habitat enhancements along the corridor, which is anchored by Global Green's Holy Cross Project.

The project will include an education program at the Dr. Martin Luther King School that will include student research projects.

The Groundwork grant also will finance an environmental stewardship curriculum for its Green Team youth employment program, which includes youngsters between 14 and 18 years old.

Wetland restoration projects to be monitored

In partnership with an existing network of local volunteers and restoration organizations, the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab) will use a $52,185 grant to train community members and wetland restoration advocates to monitor and track progress at eight ongoing urban wetland restoration projects in the Lake Pontchartrain area.

The training will include introduction to basic science, technology, engineering and math concepts, known as STEM in the education community, through real-life applications and investigation involving local urban water issues.

"Wetland restoration is critical for the future of the Gulf Coast but is not possible without the support and involvement of local residents," said Public Lab executive director Shannon Dosemagen in a news release announcing the grant.

The Public Laboratory is a nonprofit that develops and applies "open source tools," such as phone apps and cameras used by the public, to explore and investigate the environment. It's goal is to increase the ability of underserved communities to identify, publicize and remediate community environmental health concerns.

Pontilly mosquito breeding, water quality to be tracked

The Bayou Land Resource Conservation and Development Council will use a $59,000 grant to evaluate the impact of green infrastructure on mosquito breeding and surface water quality in the Pontchartrain Park and Gentilly Woods – Pontilly – neighborhoods.

Interns working for the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board will trap and identify the species of mosquitoes at rain gardens used to retain rainfall and in New Orleans Redevelopment Agency lots that are being redeveloped into wetlands, said Bayou Land's Jen Roberts. Water Works and Bayou Land will train and pay residents to also assess the quality of water entering and existing the rain gardens during rain events, and use that information to guide the design of future rain gardens.

The lots are supposed to drain within 48 to 72 hours, and the testing will determine whether they are draining properly, which should prevent them from becoming mosquito breeding habitats, or whether they will require adjustments or the use of a biological control, such as a mosquito larvacide, in areas holding water too long.

"The work we are doing will make a positive impact for both the environment and public safety," said Joe Baucum, a Bayou Land board member. "Our goal is to grow the local knowledge base to incorporate sustainable practices that improve quality of life and demonstrate a clear commitment to make Lake Pontchartrain an example of sustainability."

The Bayou Land council is a non-profit that promotes natural resource restoration and conservation, and community development throughout southeastern Louisiana.

Urban runoff in Pontilly to be monitored

The New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board received a $60,000 grant to implement its own Green Infrastructure Monitoring Project in the Pontilly neighborhoods.

The money will be used to conduct water quality monitoring in the Pontilly neighborhoods at five fixed locations, with the information providing a baseline understanding of the quality of urban runoff water before green infrastructure projects aimed at treating runoff are built. The stations will continue monitoring for a year after the infrastructure improvements are completed.

Officials expect that the quality of runoff water will improve as the sites are built, which will reduce pollutants that eventually enter Lake Pontchartrain.

Recruiting Louisiana Water Entrepreneurs! (Deadline: August 1st)

This year, Propeller’s Social Venture Accelerator will also offer a specific track for 3 Fellows solving water challenges (i.e. urban water retention/flood mitigation, water pollution, and coastal restoration) in the 10-month Propeller Accelerator.  In addition to all program components ​(consultants, mentors, pro bono assistance, and free co-working space) ​of the Social Venture Accelerator, Fellows will also receive $5,000 in ​cash for ​seed funding, provided by the generous support of the Greater New Orleans Foundation through The Idea Village.  Seed funding may be used for venture-related equipment, contracted personnel, and business-related travel (with Propeller’s approval).  

Deadline to Apply: August 1, 2014

 Fellows may be legally organized as a for-profit or non-profit.  However, only for-profit ventures will be eligible to pitch for a $10,000 cash prize during the Water Challenge Day on Monday, March 23rd, 2015, at the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria:

Entrepreneurs are the right fit for this program if they have an innovative technology, product, and/or service that provides a more efficient, cost-effective, and/or sustainable means of solving a water challenge in Louisiana - from urban water retention, water quality,  to coastal restoration.

Selection Criteria:

  • Financial Sustainability: Entrepreneur has a plan for financial sustainability and earned revenue, including identification of paying customers.  We will give priority to products and/or services that can be commercialized and are scalable.

  • Environmental Impact: Entrepreneur has an idea or business to solve a Louisiana water challenge at scale and has a plan to measure environmental impact

  • Entrepreneurial Leadership: Entrepreneur has shown commitment to the idea and shows credibility in the field and in entrepreneurship.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • For-profit or non-profit business venture or idea that addresses water retention​/flood mitigation​, water quality, and/or coastal restoration.

  • Located in Southeast Louisiana (eligible parishes include: Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Lafourche, Terrebonne, Tangipahoa, or Washington)

  • Demonstrates knowledge of water sector.

  • Have the ability to attend programmatic events

​Questions?  Interested in applying?  Please contact Andrea Chen,

504.345.9836 Phone