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.