New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board Launches Green Initiative

Sep 26, 2014

The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans is getting a little greener. On Thursday night the Board unveiled seven green infrastructure projects it’s partnering on that aim to improve community outreach and participation in the city’s water management.

One of the seven grantees for the Sewerage and Water Board’s green initiative is Rabouin International High School. It plans to build both a blue and a green roof on top of its building in the CBD.

Anthony Mayer is the project coordinator.

Mayer says blue roof technology means creating a kind of bathtub on top of a building to catch excess rain and storm-water. Unlike most roofs, which let water run straight down, this roof keeps water up high, so it won’t back up sewers and cause floods.

"The majority of the square footage of the city is impervious," or impassible to water, Mayer says. "And the majority of the imperviousness is roofs. It makes your roof a holding cell, and if you have the structural support of that building, and most older buildings do have that, it’s a no-brainer."

Some of the water captured on the International High School roof will then filter down a level to a rooftop garden, or green roof. Students will be able to have an interactive lab there, and grow food too.

All the grantees have 18 months to get their work going, and must have a maintenance plan for at least year.

After that the Sewerage and Water board hopes that communities will find ways to keep the projects sustainable.

Sewerage and Water Board Superintendent Joe Becker says these projects can ultimately help save on infrastructure costs.

"We can get to the point where we can say, you know what, it rained 2 inches and I didn’t have to turn all 119 of these pumps on, then that’s going to be a very successful program for the water board, that’s going to be a very successful program for everybody," Becker says.

The Sewerage and Water Board is dedicating $500,000 a year for the next five years to invest in green infrastructure.

Support for WWNO's Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and the Kabacoff Family Foundation.