In 2010, the State of Louisiana’s Office of Community Development - Disaster Recovery Unit funded Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) to develop the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan for the east banks of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes and St. Bernard Parish using federal Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. New Orleans firm Waggonner and Ball led a team of local and international water management experts in developing the Urban Water Plan, downloadable from this site .

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Greater New Orleans has a three hundred year history of adaptation. Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, Greater New Orleans has always been the “Gateway to the Americas.” Constant flows of people and commerce have shaped the region’s remarkable cultures. The urban design, infrastructure, buildings, governance, food, and music of the region all speak to this proud history.

Greater New Orleans possesses a 100-year hurricane protection system—the envy of other coastal cities. But with more than sixty inches of rain each year and growing risk posed by climate change, last century’s overmatched drainage infrastructure is inadequate to present and future challenges. The consequences of the current approach to water management, which removes stormwater as fast as possible, are visible in sinking land and broken infrastructure.

With the Urban Water Plan, Greater New Orleans can directly address these challenges and make better use of its water assets, while bringing innovations in engineering, planning, and design to other coastal regions where robust water infrastructure is critical to survival and economic prosperity.


The Urban Water Plan team benefited from water management and climate adaptation experience from around the world, developed through years of working relationships with high-caliber designers and engineers who have enthusiastically supported the vitality and growth of Greater New Orleans. Partnering institutions, organizations, and individuals from the Netherlands and the United States have provided critical support every step of the way, with Greater New Orleans, Inc. providing the additional support of regional leaders and institutions through the Urban Water Plan Advisory Council.

Waggonner and Ball led the project team and coordinated each phase of the work .

Learn about the team


The Urban Water Plan built on planning work and strong partnerships beginning in 2005. In 2006, Waggonner and Ball worked with H3 Studio as leaders on St. Bernard Parish Planning Framework for the Citizens Recovery Committee and in the Unified New Orleans Plan process. In 2006, Waggonner and Ball also initiated the Dutch Dialogues workshops, which brought together designers, planners, engineers, and policy-makers from the Netherlands and Louisiana to learn from each other and to place water issues at the forefront of planning and design for the Greater New Orleans region.

With the support of GNO, Inc., the project began in 2011 with Waggonner and Ball coordinating all phases of the work. This effort included meetings with systems operators and an advisory council of key stakeholders, design and planning workshops, technical workshops on specific topics such as financing, geomorphology and subsidence, and outreach efforts that included presentations to community leaders and the public.

See what problems Greater New Orleans faces