US Patent Office

TriPod: New Orleans at 300 returns with its NOLA versus Nature series. This week: WWNO’s Laine Kaplan-Levenson and Travis Lux look at the city’s drainage pumps, and the man behind their design -- Albert Baldwin Wood.

New Orleans is below sea level. You know this, and certainly, if you were here this past August, you really know this. Almost a foot of rain fell over a couple hours and parts of town were knee deep in water.

America's Watershed Initiative

A new report card for the Mississippi River basin is not good. The lower Mississippi gets a D+ from a water coalition due to poor infrastructure maintenance, run-down levees and unhealthy fish.

America’s Watershed Initiative is a coalition of industry, academic and environmental groups. Its report card graded watersheds along the river, and the river as a whole, by looking at ecosystems, transportation, water supply, flood control and the economy.

The punishing seven-year drought of the 1950s in Texas brought about the modern era of water planning. But the drought of 2011 was the hottest, driest 12 months on record there.

Though only a handful of towns saw their water sources dry up last summer, it got so bad that cities, industries and farmers began to think the unthinkable: Would they run out of water?