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Environmental and Engineering



Social and Political







Environmental and




Social and Political


Geography of New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina

Environmental Issues

Alternative Plans

100 Year Plan

New orleans geography
New Orleans Geography

  • Lake Pontchartrain (north)

  • Lake Borgne (east)

  • Mississippi River (through the city)

  • Gulf of Mexico (south)

  • Wetlands (southeast)

Environmental concerns
Environmental Concerns

  • Elevation– from 2 m above to 5 m below sea level

  • Mississippi River bed is rising

  • Subsidence– 5-8 mm per year

  • Reduction of Wetlands– 75 sq. km per year

  • Sea Level Rise– 11 cm to 77 cm in 100 years

  • Global Warming

Hurricane katrina
Hurricane Katrina

  • Made landfall as a Category 3 in southeastern Louisiana

  • Sustained winds of 125 mph

  • Projected storm surge of 28 ft

  • On August 28th, Mayor Ray Nagin enacted the first mandatory evacuation plan

  • Superdome housed 26,000 people

  • Storm surge caused several levee breaches and flooded city

  • Overall death toll: 1,800

Government response
Government Response

  • Response was slow and inefficient

  • FEMA mobilized 1000 Homeland Security workers

  • Firefighters and ambulance crews not allowed in immediately

  • Federal government lacked sufficient devastation information

  • Problems with looting

  • Superdome became a humanitarian crisis

  • Search and rescue efforts were uncoordinated

Increasing hurricane intensity
Increasing Hurricane Intensity

  • Hurricane Betsy - 1965

    • 81 casualties

    • $1.4 billion

  • Hurricane Camille - 1969

    • 335 casualties

    • $11 billion

  • Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - 2005

    • 2,000 casualties

    • $105 billion

Looking 100 years into the future

Looking 100 Years Into The Future

The Possibilities


The Final Proposal

The possibilities
The Possibilities

  • Rebuild and Improve

  • Abandon

  • North Shore Plan

  • The Final Proposal

Rebuild and improve
Rebuild and Improve

  • Rebuild better than pre-Katrina

  • High cost

  • High risk

  • Preserves unique New Orleans culture

  • Maintains economy


  • Deemed too risky to live in

  • Organized relocation of citizens

  • Low cost

  • Low risk

The north shore
The North Shore

  • Preserve unique portions

    • Historical

    • Economic functions

  • Relocate residents to St. Tammany Parish

  • Make New Orleans a commuter city

  • High risk on North Shore also

  • Lack of available land

The final proposal
The Final Proposal

  • Downsize to historical sector

  • Move major port functions

    • Port of South Louisiana

    • Baton Rouge

  • New hurricane and flood protection system

  • Citizens’ Relocation Committee (CRC)

  • Use river to develop wetlands

The final proposal1
The Final Proposal

  • Incorporates the best from the other possibilities

    • Preserves historical sector

    • Provides for relocation of port economy

    • CRC provides for safety of suburban residents

    • Smaller region to protect

      • Lower long-term cost

      • Lower risk

Solutions environmental and engineering

Solutions: Environmental and Engineering




Environmental and




Social and Political


Sea Level Rise



Flood Protection System

Global warming
Global Warming

  • Increase in temperature

  • Caused by emission of greenhouse gases

  • Affect on sea level rise:

    • Thermal Expansion

    • Melting glaciers, ice caps

    • Changes to hydraulic cycle

Sea level rise
Sea Level Rise

  • Range: 10 cm to 100 cm (IPCC Third Assessment Report)

  • Median: 48 cm

  • Models used: CCCma, GFDL, Hadley-CM3, MPI

Uncertainty of sea level rise
Uncertainty of Sea Level Rise

  • Do not capture multiple climate effects

  • Uncertainty in heat uptake by deep ocean

  • Timescales lead to inaction in policy

  • Kyoto Protocol


  • Types of:

    • Endogenic – caused by human activities

    • Exogenic – caused by natural processes

  • Causes:

    • Groundwater withdrawal

    • Petroleum extraction

    • Tectonic motion

Cost of sea level rise
Cost of Sea Level Rise

  • $20 - 150 billion if sea levels rise 100 cm (Pugh, 2004)

  • $370 million dry land damages

  • $893 million for wetlands damage

  • $200 - 475 billion for coastal stabilization

  • $57 - 174 million in transient costs

  • 1500 damaged homes yearly

    (McCarthy, 2001)

Louisiana s wetlands functions
Louisiana’s Wetlands: Functions

  • Commercial importance

    • Produces 1/4 of the nation's oil and natural gas

    • Produces 1/3 of the nation’s fisheries’ landings

    • Hosts 2nd largest wildlife habitat in the U.S.

  • Protective importance

    • Protection against storm surges

    • Every 3-4 linear miles of healthy wetlands reduces storm surge by 1 foot

Long term
Long Term

  • Reduce and compensate for current rate of loss of 75 square kilometers per year

  • Prepare for sea level rise

  • Maintain barrier islands

  • Improve knowledge of ecosystem dynamics and restoration technology

Wetlands problems and solutions
Wetlands Problems and Solutions

  • Draining and Filling

    • Zoning laws

  • Canals and Channels

    • Use fewer canals

    • Prevent further erosion from canals

  • Erosion

    • Barrier Islands

    • Use of dredged sediments

    • Revegetation

    • River diversions

Draining and filling
Draining and Filling

  • Proposed Legislation:

    • Prohibit draining and filling of ecologically important wetlands

    • 100 foot buffer between wetlands and developed areas

    • Best management techniques for drilling and farming


  • Small Scale Canal Impact

    • Canal dredging

    • Human-altered hydrology and substrate collapse

  • Large Scale Canal Impact

    • Deep navigation canals

  • Pipelines

    • 8,000 miles of pipelines across coastal Louisiana

Barrier islands
Barrier Islands

  • Katrina’s destruction of Chandeleur barrier islands (approximately 50% loss)

  • Present-day: slow rate of recovery

  • Immediately: dredging

    • Sand deposits of previous delta lobes (i.e. Ship Shoal)

Dredged sediments marsh
Dredged Sediments-Marsh

  • Sediment pumped into or placed on shallow water areas

  • Increases elevation of marshes or creates new marsh

  • Mixed success

  • May become more important in the context of increased sea level


  • Major plant death

    • Salt water intrusion

    • Lack of nutrients

  • Stabilization of soil

  • Species must be well-adapted to predicted conditions

    • Spartina can tolerate moderate salinity

River distributaries
River Distributaries

  • Dredged sediments and revegetation are inefficient to continue long term

  • Sediment and nutrient delivery system

    • Raise elevation

    • Counteract subsidence

    • Revive ecosystems to reduce erosion


  • Two distributaries

  • Each divert up to 1/5 of normal river discharge

  • Floodgate at entry point to control water level

    • Open wider during floods

    • Open less during low water

  • Armored banks


  • EAST: Breton Sound

    • Fill in MRGO until Violet Canal

    • Violet Canal and MRGO form distributary

  • WEST: Barataria Bay

    • Wilkinson Canal forms distributary

    • Establish Barataria Waterway as main canal for Lafayette oil and gas field


  • Southern cutoff

  • 2 crevasses between cutoff and Buras – maintain navigation, not flood control

  • No levees below Buras – navigation channel will not be maintained

Entry point buras
Entry Point: Buras

  • Buras to replace Head of Passes as main entry point to deep draft channel

  • Two navigation canals will allow entry from east and west

  • Bird-foot delta abandoned; nothing south of Buras unless built on a deepwater platform

Problem riverbed rise
Problem: Riverbed Rise

  • Riverbed rise

    • Sediment builds up on riverbed because it cannot be distributed on floodplain

  • Increasing stress on Old River Control Structure

    • Maintains 70% discharge through current Mississippi River channel


  • River currently being dredged to maintain navigation channel

  • Very costly but feasible because of economic importance of river

Wing dams
Wing Dams

  • Wing dams: dikes that extend from a river’s banks while allowing water to flow unhindered through the middle of the channel

  • Water behind dams will slow and drop sediment, building up sediment behind the dam

  • River channel will narrow and deepen

Wing dams cont
Wing Dams, cont.

  • Increased current velocity and pressure on bed will increase erosion, promote self-scouring process to bring bed level closer to sea level

  • River banks must be armored, so that increased erosion occurs on the bottom and not the sides

  • New river entry point at Buras shortens horizontal distance, allowing erosion to steepen profile

New river specifications
New River Specifications

  • Below Baton Rouge maintain 500 ft wide main channel, wide enough to accommodate riverboat traffic

  • Between Port of South Louisiana and Wilkinson Canal maintain 650 ft wide main channel, to accommodate the traffic at Port of New Orleans, especially boats turning around

Old river
Old River

  • Erosion of bed closer to sea level will decrease height difference between Atchafalaya and Mississippi beds at Old River, currently 12-14 ft

  • Material will be dredged from behind Old River to match changing elevation of Mississippi River bed

  • Increases capacity and use of existing structure for flood control

Flood protection system plans
Flood Protection System Plans

  • Filling in the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet

  • Floodgates and double pumps on the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue, and London Avenue Canal Levees

  • Levee Reconstruction

  • Monitoring and Maintenance

Filling in the mississippi river gulf outlet
Filling-In the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet

  • Storm surge coming up outlet was intensified, causing levees to be breached

  • Filling-in protects against funnel effect

  • Commercial/industrial impact

Floodgates and double pumps
Floodgates and Double Pumps

  • Floodgates stop water from coming into the city through the canals

  • Gates close when storm surge threatens

  • Governance by NOAA

  • Increase and redesign pump system throughout city

Levee and floodwall reconstruction
Levee and Floodwall Reconstruction

  • Patchwork system

  • Levees poorly monitored

  • Subsidence

  • I-walls protecting Lower Ninth Ward

  • New Orleans East levees overtopped and eroded

  • I-walls were not able to handle pressure from storm surges

  • Scouring and seepage caused some I-walls to fail

  • Foundations were poor


  • Rebuild to withstand Category 5 hurricane:

    • Replace I-walls with T-walls

    • Selective levee armoring

    • Rolled clay levees

    • Replace poor foundations with compacted soil

    • New levees from Intracoastal Waterway to Jefferson West Levee System

Monitoring and maintenance
Monitoring and Maintenance

  • Levee Governance Board

  • Yearly levee inventory

  • Differential Global Positioning System to monitor subsidence

  • Role of Army Corps


Floodwalls and levees raised to approved heights and engineering errors fixed.

Nov 2006


Sept 2007

Temporary floodgates on canals.

220 miles of levee repaired.

Flood Protection System complete.






Environmental and Engineering



Social and Political


Absorbing the information
Absorbing the Information

  • The 100 Year Plan

  • Environmental and Engineering Issues

    • Sea level rise and subsidence

    • Wetlands

    • Mississippi River

    • Flood Protection System

Solutions social and political

Solutions: Social and Political




Environmental and




Social and Political





Insurance/Building Codes



Committee for Continued


Downsizing by district
Downsizing By District

What Do We Do Now?

  • Risk of subsidence, sea level rise, increased storm surge

  • Returned population- 190,000; 43% of the 2004 population of 440,000

  • Residents rebuilding

  • Repair Hurricane Protection Systems- $300 million spent by Army Corps of Engineers

Lakeview and gentilly
Lakeview and Gentilly

  • Safe in the short term

  • Repaired Hurricane Protection Systems:

    • $170 million spent by Army Corps of Engineers

    • Plans for another $120 million in future projects

    • Necessary for general protection of city

  • Will be zoned over 50 years

50 year zoning plan
50 Year Zoning Plan

Criteria for Clearing Neighborhoods

New orleans east venetian isles village de l est
New Orleans East, Venetian Isles, Village de L’Est

  • Severe damage and high subsidence rates

  • Would not be safe if another, similar hurricane hit

  • Significant additional costs to make these areas safe

    • $67.5 million spent

    • $232.5 million planned

  • Eminent domain, “full and just” compensation

Lower ninth ward
Lower Ninth Ward

  • Considerable damage: 82% of homes had at least $5,200 in damages

  • Subsidence rate of 5 mm/year

  • Average elevation 0.9 meters above sea level

  • Returned population of 5%

  • Suitable for rebuilding

  • Remaining districts in Orleans Parish will be preserved


  • 57 % of homes sustained greater than $5200 in damage

  • 13 mm per year subsidence rate

  • Downriver from Pointe a la Hache immediate evacuation

  • Between Wilkinson Canal and Pointe a la Hache—50 Year Zoning Plan

Other uses for land
Other Uses for Land

  • Research Area

  • Wetlands

  • Alternate Energy Sources

  • Wildlife Reserve

Port functions
Port Functions

  • Port of South Louisiana will take over many of the roles of the Port of New Orleans

  • Shift shipping and trading business out while maintaining tourism

  • Provide monetary incentives for businesses to relocate to Port of South Louisiana


  • We plan to move businesses to Baton Rouge

    - Preparing Baton Rouge

    - Offering incentives for businesses to relocate

  • Most jobs still in New Orleans will be related to tourism

Relocating people
Relocating People

  • People will relocate

    - Zoning and eminent domain in some neighborhoods

    - Following the jobs to other cities

  • Offer support through the Citizens’ Relocation Committee (CRC) and monetary aid

Plans for preservation programs
Plans for Preservation Programs

  • Goal: promote cultural awareness

  • Festivals, museums, libraries, and memorials

  • Example: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

  • New Orleans History Month

  • Preserve a city’s culture while moving on to a safer, more efficient municipality in a new location

Social considerations
Social Considerations

  • Completion of clean-up

  • Reopening of funeral homes

  • Beautification of cemeteries

  • Propagation of neighborhood festivals

  • Hurricane and Flood Memorial


  • Vocational training

  • Non-academic activities for grade school students

  • Normalize transportation and hours

  • New curriculum:

    • Local cultural and political history

    • Diversity acceptance

    • Hurricane and flood preparedness

    • Conservation and environmentally sound living

Insurance policy
Insurance Policy

  • Louisiana Department of Insurance

    • clarify insurance ambiguities

    • expansion of agent-homeowner services

  • Mandatory National Flood Insurance Program

    • avoid “natural disaster syndrome”

Building codes and green architecture
Building Codes and Green Architecture

  • First Floor Plan

    • Minimizes flood damage

    • $5000 contents coverage limit

  • Wind Damage Recommendations

    • Protection of building openings

    • Improved roof-sheathing attachment

    • Improved roof-wall connections

    • Secondary waterproofing to roof joints

  • Green Architecture

Government subsidized housing
Government-Subsidized Housing

  • Single family homes and low-rise apartments

  • Follow building codes and green architecture guidelines

  • Integration of mixed income communities

Evacuation storm refuge
Evacuation/Storm Refuge

  • Evacuation Routes

  • Major evacuation routes:

    • I-10 to Baton Rouge/Houston

    • I-55

    • I-59 to northern Mississippi

  • Contraflow changes inbound to outbound

Car access and remnant population problem
Car Access and Remnant Population Problem

  • Superdome housed 26,000 people

  • 9% of population has no car access

  • Solution:

    • Public bus transportation to common evacuation destinations

    • Set up additional local shelters

    • Staff and supply Superdome with a maximum capacity

Baton rouge overpopulation problem
Baton Rouge Overpopulation Problem

  • Baton Rouge's population nearly doubled with incoming evacuees

  • Solution:

    • Allow only up to 50-100,000 refugees into city

    • LSU as temporary shelter

    • Develop Houston as evacuation destination by designating Astrodome as a shelter and Astrodome/Reliant Center Complex as a health clinic


  • Phase 3 begins contraflow

  • During Phase 1, begin pre-supplying shelters in New Orleans with food, water, and first-aid kits

  • Contract private companies to do so and to stock excess emergency supplies such as flashlights and batteries throughout hurricane season.

Evacuation cooperation
Evacuation Cooperation

  • 20-30% of New Orleans population failed to evacuate

  • Solution:

    • Remind public of hurricane dangers; increase evacuation cooperation

    • Hurricane Awareness Week

    • Continue to advertise/distribute info pertaining to evacuation routes, home security, bus transport stops

Committee for continued monitoring
Committee for Continued Monitoring

  • Experts and professionals from many different fields

  • Provides flexibility to our proposal

  • Keeping New Orleans safe in the future






Environmental and Engineering



Social and Political



  • A plan of integration

  • A downsized, sustainable city

  • A New Orleans for the future


We would like to thank Sam Bowring, Rafael Bras, Ari Epstein, Katrina Cornell, our Undergraduate Teaching Fellows, our Alumni Mentors, Debra Aczel, Maria Shkolnik, Ruth Weinrib, and the librarians.

We would also like to thank the panelists.