Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan

New Orleans water plan

New Orleans Louisiana USA

New Orleans Louisiana USA

New Orleans Louisiana USA

New Orleans Louisiana USA

the essence

Research and design as emergency aid

Deltas are the best place to live… if you know how to deal with the water. In 2005, hurricane Katrina caused enormous havoc in New Orleans over the course of only one day. Since then, the city has found its feet again, working hard to improve its water management. The Netherlands has taken a prominent role in supporting the city in its battle against water. This has led to new water management strategies that are unique, even by Dutch standards.

As part of a team of over twenty Dutch and American experts in hydrology, soil science, water management, urban planning and landscape architecture, BoschSlabbers was deeply involved in the research and design process for the future of New Orleans, resulting in the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan. The plan blends water security with improvements in the urban environment and exciting leisure opportunities.


The strategy

From drainage to infiltration landscape

To strike a safer and more sustainable balance between city and water, the plan proposes a 50-year development program. New Orleans will have to transform its water system from a concrete drainage system that only discharges water into a more finely-woven system that absorbs, retains and drains water. A system, moreover, that utilises water as an added value for New Orleans’ public space.

The report consists of an analysis of the city, its cityscape and its water system, and suggestions for a long-term transformation strategy. In addition, it includes four proposals aimed at better management of water on key locations in the city. Aside from involvement in the overall strategy, BoschSlabbers also worked on the design development of Lafitte Blueway, the Monticello canal and the New Street Standard.

The approach

Lafitte Blueway

The Lafitte corridor is a unique, open space within the densely built city of New Orleans. It stretches between the old city centre and City Park, where it has a connection to Lake Ponchartrain.
The report proposes a strategy for the transformation of the Lafitte corridor into the Lafitte Blueway. The strategy is aimed at more sustainable water management and improvement of water quality; it creates space for excess rainwater (retention) and prevents droughts caused by dropping water tables.
Blueway also adds value to the neighbouring districts. The plans would create an attractively designed waterfront in the heart of the city, connected to the French Quarter, City Park and Lake Ponchartrain.

the measurements

Streets that set a new standard

A significant number of streets in New Orleans is in bad shape. The need for renovation and reconstruction is high, and calls for a more integrated approach. This also creates opportunities to combine a variety of interventions in one go. Our study was a first step towards a handbook for a ‘new standard in street design’.

The standard for a new type of street profile consists of three focus areas:
1. Integral water management;
2. An efficient underground water system;
3. A smooth and safe transit for all road users.
The ‘new standard street’ is part of a larger, comprehensive water system, which includes infiltration zones, water storage, and above and below ground drainage systems. Lakeview has been designated as pilot area, to test the effectiveness of the new system.

More information on the Dutch Dialogues can be found at All reports on the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan can be downloaded from the website

Project data

Title: Dutch Dialogues New Orleans & New Orleans Urban Water Plan

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Size: 15.000 ha

Client: City of New Orleans, Ministry of VROM Netherlands

Cooperation: American Planning Association, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Waggonner & Ball Architects, Netherlands Water Partnership

Duration: 2008-2011

Type: water safety strategy, climate adaptation

Image credits: BoschSlabbers, Waggonner & Ball Architects, Netherlands Water Partnership

Project code: HO 08-11