Image by PublicDomainPictures from PixabayImage by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

At first glance, the Pontilly Neighborhood Stormwater Network would be easy to miss: newly paved sidewalks and freshly planted neutral grounds dotting Pontchartrain Park and Gentilly Woods. A closer look would show that unlike the neutral grounds in many other areas of the city, these slope inward, providing a basin that can store and drain water that otherwise would be left on the streets. Altogether, the $15.5 million in improvements to the neighborhood – paid for with funds from FEMA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – can hold 8 million gallons of stormwater that otherwise would have to be pumped out of the neighborhood. That’s equivalent to reducing flooding by 14 inches of water during a storm with a 10% chance of happening each year, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Infrastructure Ramsey Green said.

These improvements are the first to utilize the “Living with Water” philosophy. The idea is to save water in natural spaces to reduce the dependence on the Sewage and Water Board, often found lacking.

“Green infrastructure is more than just a buzzword, it’s a way to save our residents money to reduce the flooding and a way to provide our children with a better city and a brighter future,” Councilmember Jared Brossett said at a ribbon-cutting for the project on Wednesday. Beyond the neutral grounds themselves, the project includes the installation of permeable pavement on sidewalks and some parking areas and comes alongside improvements aimed at increasing the capacity of the Dwyer Canal.

This system works. The recent rains, in an area that usually floods, did not flood.

Though the neighborhood has traditionally flooding during rainstorms, it remained dry, with water flowing into the centers of the neutral ground away from anywhere it could cause damage, said Gretchen Bradford, president of the Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association. “With the rain we had we saw how the process worked how it flows out and how it saves us from flooding,” Bradford said. “We’re already reaping the rewards of this wonderful design.”

This sounds like a good idea and a good program that we should support.

Improvements to keep storm water off the roads