NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - When there is a big storm in Jefferson Parish, Pontiff Playground becomes more like a pond. The parish fills the park and other greenspaces.
"We've been very innovative in trying to use areas as retention areas that would hold water while we allow the pumping system to catch up," said Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts. "Both Orleans and Jefferson systems are designed to handle 1 inch in the first hour and a half an inch after that. What we've done in Jefferson is that in areas that we know have issues, we've created retention areas where we can pump the water into them in order to keep the water from going into homes or businesses. And, once the system catches up, we can pump the water out."
Roberts said he's talking with New Orleans Councilman Jason Williams.
"Because their system worked pretty well, and rain water doesn't know parish boundaries, and good ideas shouldn't know boundaries either," Williams said. "If what they have going on in Pontiff park could give us some relief in Lakeview - they were underwater last night - we need to adopt that, and we need to put it in place
New Orleans is already working on ways to deal with water that are innovative. Some call the urban water plan the biggest effort of any city in the country. The plan includes the Mirabeau Water Garden. Construction should begin on the site off of St. Bernard Avenue at Mirabeau next summer. The site is bigger than the Superdome and it dwarfs Jackson Square. Like Pontiff Playground, water would be stored here there until pumps could catch up. The water garden is one of five large water retention projects in the planning stages.
Suzannah Burley said smaller projects work, too. She is the executive director of SOUL, which stands for "sustaining our urban landscape."
"Trees like this can drink upwards of 800 gallons a day," she said. So, as you can see right here, we have a tremendous amount of rain and the only high, dry ground you can see is underneath that live oak."
This fall, SOUL will begin planting 600 large trees in the city, and they've been able to change the city's master plan to call for more trees.