Mark Schleifstein, environmental writer for The Times-Picayune, has written a piece on how the Dutch Dialogues have been instructive in teaching communities to live with water. In the article, he writes,
The planners hope to spur redesigns of sections of the city where waterways, urban wetlands and green, open areas can be used to store additional rainfall or where developed areas are redesigned to better hold rainwater through use of new absorbent street and sidewalk building materials or adoption of cisterns and other water-storage containers.
Planners from the Netherlands will share their knowledge of similar efforts adopted in that country, with a recognition that differences in New Orleans’ geology and climate will require significant adjustments.
Former wetlands on which Gentilly and other suburban neighborhoods were built used to keep the city’s geology buoyant, Waggonner said. Today, vast areas of the city have sunk to as much as 6 feet below sea level, the unintended result of those areas being drained by canals that suck up the water that had kept the soil elevated.
The trick, he said, is to find ways of reintroducing water into soils in ways to reduce subsidence, and in finding ways of transforming the canals into spaces attractive to the public.
Alternatives could include the adoption of plans already backed by state and city officials to turn the London and Orleans avenue canals into a gravity-fed drainage system by building permanent pump stations at the lakefront that would replace existing interior pump stations.
Read the full article over at nola.com: