The New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board has its fair share of troubles. An eroded, distrustful relationship with the people of the city, ongoing budget problems, and a contentious partnership with the Civil Service Department are just a few challenges facing the utility.
But while S&WB’s new executive director Ghassan Korban is committed to fixing those issues, he also has an eye on the future. In a meeting with the Board of Directors and Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Korban took a moment to talk about his vision for S&WB’s future in green infrastructure.
“Green infrastructure has to be part of our DNA,” stated Korban. It’s his belief that it should be part of S&WB’s mission to lead the charge on green infrastructure efforts across the city.
What is Green Infrastructure?
Green infrastructure is particularly important for a city with a flooding problem. Essentially, Korban hopes to use natural installations to help provide additional flood protection and cleaner water to the city of New Orleans. There are a number of green infrastructure projects planned in the city:
- Green Roofs – There will be a green roof installed on the S&WB Downtown Administration Building at 625 St. Joseph Street in the Central Business District. Green roofs are particularly suited to urban environments. These rooftop gardens help to collect and store rainwater in a natural way. Not only that, but they help to reduce pollution and help lower air temperatures.
- Rain Gardens – There are several rain gardens planned throughout the city. These shallow basins will be filled with local plants and other vegetation to collect and store rainwater runoff from roofs, streets, and sidewalks. Construction of the Central City Stormwater Lot is already complete, while gardens in Aurora are currently under construction, and projects for the Treme neighborhood are in the design phase.
- Broadmoor WEB – Broadmoor has a particularly high flood risk. To help mitigate that, the S&WB has planned a network of tree plantings, rain gardens, and bioswales to help reduce stormwater runoff. These will also help to improve water quality in the area by acting as a natural filtration system. Construction on this project began in March of 2017.
- Education – Recognizing that the city’s children are her future, the S&WB implemented green infrastructure education projects underway at schools throughout the city.
Some of these projects are, understandably, on hold until S&WB’s budget crisis is resolved. However, Director Korban was adamant in his stand that these are, and will continue to be a priority as S&WB begins to resolve it’s other issues and begins moving forward.