Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan

Common Challenges in Urbanized Deltas

Posted on 5 May 2014


Greater New Orleans has always contended with flooding from rainfall, and now faces new challenges, including changing climate, rising seas, and human-induced sinking of the land.

In the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina that laid waste to large parts of New Orleans, a number of large infrastructure and research projects have been initiated to improve flood prevention in the region. With a similar flood prone, urbanized delta area the Dutch have considerable experience with water management that has proven invaluable to formulating a solution and future response to these projects.

In 2010, the State of Louisiana funded Greater New Orleans, Inc. to develop a comprehensive, integrated and sustainable water management strategy for Greater New Orleans. The study was developed over the course of two years by a team of local and international, including Dutch, water management experts. The outcome is the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, a vision for longterm urban water management in the 21st century, and effectively the first regional urban water plan of its kind in the United States.

Dutch Dialogues

After seeing first-hand the value of the Dutch approach to stormwater management and climate adaptation, archtecture and planning firm Waggonner & Ball initiated a series of Dutch Dialogues workshops, co-sponsored by the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the American Planning Association. These collective efforts and extended interactions between Dutch and American architects, engineers, urban designers, landscape architects, city planners and soils/hydrology experts grew from the belief that the Greater New Orleans region can survive, prosper, and grow only with a fundamentally different approach to urban water management. Many of the same parties continued this collective effort and formed the Project Team for the Urban Water Plan.

Dutch Dialogues provides a condensed narrative of the fruits of a workshop dealing with this common theme and provides a collection of insightful papers, planning solutions, water strategies and other sketches and models that deal with this subject.


The Urban Water Plan provides a roadmap for improving management of flood and subsidence threats, while creating economic value and enhancing quality of life. This plan works with Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan and the region’s levee system in creating multiple lines of defense.


The Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan is available online at

Watch the TEDx presentation by initiator David Waggoner in New Orleans on August 2010.


Implementation of the Urban Water Plan puts forth seven demonstration projects and will have approximately $22 billion in economic benefits to the region over fifty years.

Project location

Project partners

  • Arcadis Nederland B.V.
  • Bosch Slabbers landscape + urban design
  • Deltares
  • Royal HaskoningDHV
  • TU Delft