Sinking Levees, Oil and Gas Lawsuits, Urban Flooding, and more!

April 30th, 2019

Each month our friends at Propeller send out a monthly newsletter which discusses issues related to water in New Orleans. This month covers an array of topics that may concern some New Orleans residents. Read more below.


Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation

April Water Update

​​​​​Here are this month’s latest news stories in local and national water policy.

​​​​​Missed the 2019 PitchNOLA Water Challenge presented by the Greater New Orleans Foundation? Check out WWNO’s coverage here, and congratulations to the grand prize winners, Mastodonte

In the News

Post-Katrina Levee System Sinking 
Scientific AmericanThe Times-Picayune
The Army Corps of Engineers announced that the post-Katrina levee system will be unable to provide flood protection from the 1% annual chance flood (‘a 100 year flood’) in 2023. The levee system’s level of protection is degrading because of subsidence and sea level rise. The Corps is conducting studies to determine whether upgrades to maintain the standard of protection are “technically feasible, environmentally acceptable, and economically justified.” The existing levee system was largely completed in 2011 and was authorized by Congress “to provide the levels of protection necessary” for property behind the levees to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Unless improvements are made to keep pace with changing environmental conditions, the levees and floodwalls that make up the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) could be decertified in 2023. This would have substantial impacts, calling into question the region’s flood risk and eligibility for flood insurance.

New Orleans files wetland damage suit against oil, gas companies
The Times-PicayuneThe Advocate 
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell filed a lawsuit on March 29 against Entergy New Orleans, Chevron U.S.A. Inc, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and eight other oil and gas companies, seeking repair of damage caused by exploration, production and pipeline construction activities to wetlands along the city’s eastern edges. As in similar lawsuits filed by six Louisiana parishes, the city argues that the energy companies violated provisions of the state’s Coastal Zone Management Act, either by not restoring damage (such as manmade canals and spoil banks), or by not cleaning up hazardous and radioactive waste produced during drilling operations.  The suit contends the companies failed to follow regulations requiring them to backfill canals; repair lost wetlands; clean up wastes; and, in some instances, failed to get the permits required to work in the wetland areas. Industry representatives and lobbyists responded that the lawsuit could result in oil and gas companies leaving New Orleans and pulling their corporate sponsorships of local events.

New Report: Urban Flooding in the United States
National Academies of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences Committee on Urban Flooding released a new report, “Framing the Challenge of Urban Flooding in the United States.” The report examines flooding across four case study metropolitan areas, including nearby Houston, highlighting the increasing costs associated with old and inadequate sewer infrastructure, urban development, and population growth. The report highlights the need for improved approaches to predicting and addressing urban flooding, especially considering the increasing threat of heavy precipitation and sea level rise. Finally, it presents FEMA and other federal resources that can help address key urban flood hazard needs.

Seven years and $9 million later, wastewater assimilation a slow starter in New Orleans
The Lens
The Lens provides an update on the wastewater assimilation project that was announced in 2011 to rebuild the Central Wetlands around Bayou Bienvenue, which have been heavily damaged by saltwater intrusion from the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.

ICYMI: Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast
The New Yorker
The New Yorker recently published this piece exploring Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts.

More Water Headlines

Water Funding & Finance

  • Funding: Gulf Research Program, Fostering Innovation to Improve Understanding and Prediction of the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current System. Due June 5, 2019. More information.
  • Funding: National Geographic’s Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge. Due June 11, 2019. More information.
  • Coastal Projects: CPRA is moving to all electronic bids. Make sure you’re registered on LaGov as a vendor to be able to submit your bid and keep an eye on CPRA’s project hotlist for upcoming bids.

Water Events

  • Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans’ (EPNO) 2019 Class Applications Open | Due April 30 | Have questions about joining EPNO? Attend recruitment event on April 24 at the Eiffel Society from 5:30pm-7:30pm | Apply
  • Webinar: Understanding Gentrification & Displacement | May 5, 11:00am–12:30pm CDT | This webinar aims to frame the topics of gentrification and displacement as well as share types of multi-sector partnerships that urban waters practitioners can create to ease displacement pressures | Register
  • Historic Preservation in the Face of Climate Change, II: Adapt | May 15, 2019 at 6 PM – 7:30 PM at the New Canal Lighthouse | Attend


Interested in conserving water, energy, and natural resources? Take the WaterPledge, a friendly competition between cities across the US to see who can be the most “water-wise.” 

Do you have water management policy and program questions for Propeller orWater Works? Let us know, and we’ll run them in upcoming newsletters. Email Allison or Miriam.

WaterMark is a monthly briefing on water programs and policies in Louisiana, brought to you by Propeller and Water Works. 

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