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Region's Comprehesive Water Plan Marks Second Year

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A comprehensive water-management plan for the greater New Orleans region is marking its second year. Partners in the program say they’re optimistic that people will adapt to a new way of living with water.

The economic development group Greater New Orleans, Inc. is managing the Urban Water Plan. GNO Inc. President Michael Hecht says it has strong, bipartisan political backing.

“What’s so exciting is that two years in, this is real," said Hecht.

But what is it?

The plan says that keeping water out won’t work, and with rising sea levels eating away at Louisiana, it needs ingenuity to handle.

That means jobs.

GNO Inc. executive vice president Robin Barnes says Data Center researchers estimate 12,000 jobs will open in water management in the region between this year and 2019.

“Sewerage and Water Board has jobs that are open right now, but I think we’re going to see the real surge when the BP monies really start flowing and those projects really start coming on line," Barnes said.

There are some pilot projects that can be seen now, like rain gardens. Other projects are still in design, but architect David Waggonner says they will become visible in time, in many ways.

“It’s a great shift in activity if you actually notice there’s a bird flying along the canal or the bayou, right? It’s somehow uplifting," Waggonner said.

Next up are storm water retention projects in Jefferson Parish, and a major conference at the convention center in March.

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