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Mirabeau Water Garden looks to ease neighbors flooding concerns

The project is meant to enhance the neighborhood and protect it from flooding.

NEW ORLEANS - At his final Sewerage and Water Board meeting Wednesday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said improving the city's drainage should be the top priority. Meanwhile a project is in the works in the Filmore neighborhood that some say could help.

The project is meant to enhance the neighborhood and protect it from flooding. Those behind it say they strongly believe this new approach will prove beneficial.

Near the corner of St. Bernard and Mirabeau Avenues, sits 25 acres of green space.

"I love the view across the street. A lot of people go to it all day long," said Joseph Anseman.

For Loyola Environmental Professor, Bob Thomas, the space is the future of stormwater management.

"So, what we're trying to do is figure out ways we can capture the value of water," he said.

It'll be called the Mirabeau Water Garden, an area that will collect rainwater, helping the neighborhood pumps catch up during times of heavy rain.

"Think of it as a retention pond," Thomas said.

While some water could be pulled out by the pumps, water collected will also circulate through a series of ponds. A process Thomas says will keep the soil hydrated, preventing subsidence.

"There'll be a linear long pond," he said. "On the very front it'll be open water and then as you go into it, you'll start getting into emergent green vegetation. Then as you go into it it'll be denser vegetation, and then you might hit Cypress trees or a classic swamp, and then you get to the back and there's a system that pumps it into the sand."

Residents who live near the space are excited for the project.

"It'd be great. They have a lot of areas over there that flood real bad," said Anseman. "People have to put their cars on the neutral ground."

However, Nikki Najoila wonders what the hold up is.

"We've been waiting for it, waiting for it, where is it?" she asked. "I know the money has been set aside and it's a lot of money and that's money that's committed to our community. We want it."

No start date has been announced, but that hasn't stopped Thomas from looking ahead to the finished product. A spot he says will show people the benefits of living with water instead of fearing it.

"Projects like this move slowly," he said. "The city has the money right now to do the core of the project, but it just takes time, but believe me, it'll be worth waiting for."

The city has secured about $12.5 million from FEMA as well as other federal funding through the city's award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's National Disaster Resilience Competition.

More information can be found here.

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