New Orleans experiences persistent subsidence, frequent localized flooding, and nonpoint source pollution that impacts water quality in Lake Pontchartrain.
Only with the design of a complex municipal drainage system has the city been able to develop on what was previously uninhabitable wetlands. Unfortunately, this single approach to water management coupled with the spread of impervious surfaces has only increased the city’s susceptibility to flooding from regular rain events. The very pumping system that works to keep the city dry is also the leading cause of our sinking. Cracking foundations, ‘rollercoaster roads’, and crumbling infrastructure are just a few of the many issues associated with our current approach to water management.
Moreover, those most vulnerable to repetitive flood loss are often least able to prioritize green infrastructure retrofits over other financial demands.
Prioritizing simple, high-impact solutions means that each dollar of funding goes further
A turn-key process means that solutions can quickly be expanded to other communities
Community ownership and education ensures long-term success for each of the solutions
In order to address these underlying systemic issues from a grassroots level, working with private homeowners, Umbrella has formed a collaborative partnership between the Urban Conservancy’s Front Yard Initiative, Green Light New Orleans, Sustaining Our Urban Landscape, and Launch NOLA Green to coordinate the outreach, intake, and education processes for homeowners interested in green infrastructure (GI) installation/retrofit programs within the city of New Orleans. This partnership in turn facilitates the scaling and streamlining of existing retrofit programs citywide and begins to build a meaningful level of community awareness through small-scale implementation, intentionally concentrated in the Hoffman Triangle Neighborhood.
Through the strategic installation of 100 15-gallon trees and 35 rain barrels; removal of at least 1500 square feet of impermeable surface and installation of GI features by Launch NOLA Green graduates; and the involvement in 80 residents in GI workshops offered by the collaborative, in year 1 Umbrella endeavors to have empowered residents, local institutions, and other community stakeholders to better understand the causes of regular flooding and sinking, while also understanding and implementing sustainable, yet financially attainable solutions, as they take ownership of their community's future.
Project Outcomes and Vision
By empowering homeowners to implement a range of proven, high-quality GI retrofit services, homeowners' efforts through Umbrella will directly impact the city's core issues of flooding and water quality. Additionally, by providing improved tree canopy, drainage, and safe places to walk homeowners' efforts through Umbrella's programs will encourage outdoor physical activity that can alleviate some of New Orleans’ alarming health statistics, including higher rates than the national average for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Further, the proposed project mitigates and assists neighborhoods with adapting to climate change through:
CO2 reduction through mitigating heat island effect (trees, depaving)
CO2 reduction and oxygen production (trees)
CO2 and water usage reduction through reduction of water consumption for irrigation (rain barrels)
Reduction in air temperatures and energy bills (trees)
Decreased air, water and soil pollution (all measures)
Community building (all measures)
Waste reduction through the use of repurposed rain barrels
Reduced subsidence via recharging the water table (depaving, trees)
In all, Umbrella envisions a future in which homeowners at every socio-economic level are empowered to take ownership of their community's resiliency by implementing meaningful GI solutions that complement the city's public efforts.
Umbrella's 4 Philosophical Pillars Shape All Project Outreach and Efforts
Creating a system that is both grassroots in its user interface and highly technical and data-driven in measuring impact resulting in the implementation of a "bottom-up" urban water management plan.
Equity and Inclusivity
Umbrella's efforts in the Hoffman Triangle are intentional, as systemic economic disparity and water management are tied together. Communities with the highest economic disparity experience the most frequent flooding.
Partnership is paramount in order to meaningfully engage community members and to level complementary strengths among local Stormwater Retrofit Organizations.
Local Government Commitment
Umbrella's approach has been designed to be complementary to the city's efforts and overall water management plan. By intentionally working in tandem, both Umbrella and the City are better able to serve residents.
Process of Change
Building Relationships for Long-term success
Listening to community needs through canvassing, focus groups, and community events
Identifying and building relationships with local leaders, institutions, and stakeholders
GI Education and Solutions
Raising awareness and equipping residents to start creating more resilient neighborhoods
Hosting community events and homeowner workshops focused around GI education
Providing and installing trees and rain barrels for residents, along with maintenance training
Removing 5000 sqft of impervious surfaces and replacing with permeable pavement
Scaling the Impact
Expanding efforts to empower residents in other neighborhoods across New Orleans
Identify "sister" neighborhoods to Hoffman Triangle
Implement Umbrella's turnkey model, incorporating best practices from the Pilot
Umbrella's Pilot Program is Centered Specially and Intentionally within the Hoffman Triangle Neighborhood of New Orleans
Start Date: January 1st, 2019
End Date: December 31st 2020
Initial Community Engagement Complete
Community Survey Findings Compiled in Guiding Report
150+ Native Trees and Shrubs Planted
20+ Rain Barrels Installed
1800 Sqft of Concrete Removed
4680 Gallons of Runoff Storage Created Through Permeable Paving, French Drains, and Rain Gardens
5 Local Businesses Engaged in Green Infrastructure Installations
Are you an organization in a sister city looking to implement this model in your community?
Are you a funder interested in helping to scale Umbrella's impact?