The Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan

Following two and a half years of development, the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan was released in November 2013 to directly address groundwater and storm water as critical factors in shaping a safer, more livable, and economically vibrant Southeast Louisiana.

This strategy, which can be found at, seeks to work in tandem and create multiple lines of defense with the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System and Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan.

Administered by GNO, Inc., the $2.5 million plan was funded by the Louisiana Office of Community Development-Disaster Recovery Unit.  New Orleans firm, Waggonner & Ball Architects, led a team of local and international water management experts to develop the Urban Water Plan.  A regional advisory council made up of industry, government, economic development and nonprofit leaders guided the two-year process. 

The study area for the plan for St. Bernard Parish and the east banks of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.

Media Assets

Overview document (PDF)
Water Plan Images
Video Overview

Key Concepts

At its core, the Urban Water Plan focuses on a clear and direct issues which affect the Greater New Orleans region. These include:

Flooding is caused by frequent storms common to this region, when the catch basins, pipes, and pumps of our current drainage systems are overwhelmed.  Flooding causes not only property and economic damage but is potentially harmful to residents

Subsidence, the sinking of the ground, damages buildings, streets and other infrastructure, and makes the challenge of pumping storm water out more difficult. Subsidence is a result of dry soils, in part impacted by drainage practices

The Urban Water Plan sets forth strategies to address flooding caused by excess runoff and subsidence.  

Current Status

In the two years that have passed since the release of the plan, major steps have taken place to bring the concepts highlighted within to reality.


  • Launched in September 2014, The Greater New Orleans Urban Water Collaborative is a collaborative of more than 100 individuals, organizations, and communities working to address critical water issues throughout New Orleans and the greater New Orleans region
  • Ripple Effect was recently established to promote “water literacy” through design-based, in-school instruction as a means to create opportunities for our youngest citizens to gain the knowledge and skills they need to strengthen their communities


  • The City of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish have committed funds to the design phase of Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan demonstration projects:

    – Jefferson Parish is advancing design work for the Joseph S. Yenni Building parking lot which will incorporate water retention and green infrastructure elements. This project will be a crucial first step in advancing the Elmwood Fields and Water Lanes demonstration project

    – The City of New Orleans is working with diverse community partners to develop the Mirabeau Water Garden in Gentilly, 25 acres of land which will be designed to divert water from the London Avenue Canal and capture stormwater runoff, allowing for more infiltration, reducing subsidence, and becoming a neighborhood amenity

  • Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans has committed $500,000 a year for green infrastructure pilot projects including demonstration, education and outreach projects
  • The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority has created six rain gardens in various neighborhoods of New Orleans- Hollygrove, Filmore, Gentilly Woods, Lower Ninth Ward, and Algiers
  • The new New Orleans Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance includes Article 23 that requires that new development and redevelopment retain, detain, and filter the first one and one quarter inch (1.25”) of stormwater runoff during each rain event


The Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan has received national and global recognition, including:

Learn More

The entire volume library which makes up the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan can be found at

Additionally, during the release of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, GNO, Inc. launched an informational iPad app. This app provides an interactive overview of basic water management issues facing the Greater New Orleans region and proposes an adaptable, forward-looking vision for an addressing these problems.

The GNO Urban Water Plan app highlights the plan’s operating principles and makes a case for a new approach to stormwater management as a vital key to our region’s continued growth and stability. Download it at

The app was made possible with the generous assistance of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Unit.


Order the full printed copy of documents online, delivered to your home or office:
VIsion Doc
Vision Document

Implementation Document

Urban Design Document