Stormwater as a Problem
Water is New Orleans' lifeblood and its biggest challenge. In our city, decades of well-intentioned civil engineering have resulted in severe subsidence in neighborhoods across the city. Subsidence occurs when rainfall is diverted into stormwater drains instead of being absorved by the land. Deprived of rainwater, the land begins to "sink" or subside. The effect is similar to that of a dried and shrunken sponge.
Subsidence causes foundation cracks, broken sidewalks, dangerous road conditions, and a loss of elevation. The infrastructure used to drain the city requires costly maintenance and, as we saw during Hurricane Katrina, is subject to failures that can cause catastrophic damage to vulnerable communities.
Our stormwater gardens
Home by Hand is adding stormwater gardens all of our new homes in Gentilly. The gardens features french drains, two swales, and lots of water-happy plants. The gardens not only provide beautiful landscaping, and help prevent subsidence by allowing the water to seep back into the ground, but they also ease the burden on the city's pumps. Each site is capable of diverting up to 50,000 gallons of water a year from the municipal stormwater drainage system.
Home by Hand is working with a unique coalition for this project, including:
Louisiana Green Corps - a nonprofit that provides environmental education and career building opportunities to young adults aspiring to improve their lives and our community. LAGC provides training and education services to individuals with barriers to work. For this project, students participate in classroom presentations, a hands-on design workshop, a pumping station tour, and visits to various stormwater collection projects. The training concludes with the participants working side-by-side with experienced professionals to design and install a stormwater collection system at a Home by Hand house.
Greenman Dan, Inc - Greenman Dan is a New Orleans landscaping and stormwater management company that builds rain gardens, french drains, and many other green infrastructure systems. Dan has designed passive stormwater systems for single-family houses, pumped rainwater systems for irrigation, and irrigation for LEED certified developments.
NOLA Tree Project - NOLA Tree Project (formerly Hike for KaTREEna) is a nonprofit that seeks to grow stronger, healthier communities through tree planting, community service, and disaster relief programs. NTP organizes volunteer groups of all ages and sizes year round -- form adults in town for a convention to students visiting on an alternative spring break. They are helping to coordinate bringing these volunteer groups to our sites to help install the rain gardens and learn about our city's struggles with water management.