The Water Wise Tremé Initiative began in 2016 with a partnership between Water Wise Gulf South and the Greater Tremé Consortium.
Greater Tremé Consortium (GTC) is a community based, 501(c)3 non-profit. The organization was formed in 1993 with a mission to increase affordable housing opportunities for low-to-moderate income families and to support the development of small businesses in the Tremé neighborhood. Over the past twenty years, GTC has worked in all areas of community development to improve living conditions in Tremé, including housing, poverty, education, beautification, small business development, health, the environment, and preservation of Tremé’s unique culture. GTC’s involvement has included over 100 community meetings which led to the development of affordable housing (both rentals and home ownership), a community maintenance program, youth-run restaurant, a collaboration with the National American Civilian Corps, health testing, community gardens, housing and credit counseling services, and most recently, water management to prevent flooding.
Cheryl R. Austin is the Executive Director of Greater Tremé Consortium and is a lifelong resident of the Tremé neighborhood. As director of Greater Tremé Consortium, Inc., she has advocated for increased funding to alleviate the social and economic woes of the Tremé community. Because of her efforts to reduce blight, multiple years of funding–both private and public–have been secured to construct new housing and repair low-to-moderate residents’ homes. Additionally, Cheryl has planned, organized, and implemented affordable housing programs, beautification projects, youth services, and cultural events, as well as advocated to increase awareness of green infrastructure and stormwater management initiatives.
The footprint in which Water Wise Tremé works is from Rampart Street to N. Broad Street, and from Esplanade Avenue to St. Louis Street.
According to the New Orleans Data Center, the population of the footprint is 4,682. 62% of the residents are Black, 28.2% are White, and roughly 5% are Hispanic. The majority of residents are renters (77%) and 33% of the households are vacant in the Tremé/Lafitte Statistical Region. The average household income is $40,267 and 60.7% of the residents are living at or above the poverty line, while 39.3% live in poverty.
The Tremé neighborhood sits at sea level in some areas closer to the French Quarter, but moving in the direction of N. Claiborne Avenue and eventually N. Broad Street, the elevation falls below sea level. Areas closer to Esplanade Avenue sit at or above sea level due to the Esplanade Ridge, which is an area of naturally higher ground.
S&WB Pumping Station #2 is responsible for pumping most of the rainwater out of the Tremé neighborhood and eventually to Lake Pontchartrain.
The Treme is plagued by chronic flooding. Some of the causes includes:
- Lack of storm drains in certain areas such as N. Johnson and St. Ann Streets
- Clogged storm drains
- Illegal driveways blocking drainage ditches from functioning
- Residential Development with a lot of impervious surface not covered by the City Zoning Ordinance
- Littering which clogs storm drains
- S&WB pumps not functioning properly (for example in August of 2017)
- Run off from Louis Armstrong Park and the I-10 Overpass
- More intense rainstorms due to climate change
- Lack of appropriate drainage infrastructure (such as lack of gutters on I-10)
- Imbalance of infrastructure investments, which is an equity issue
- Contractor malpractice such as observed cement and debris poured or run off in storm drains
Green Infrastructure in Treme
Water Wise Treme has held or participated at 42 community outreach, education, and social events that have engaged about 786 people in the topic of green infrastructure.
To date, Water Wise Treme has:
- Installed 44 rain barrels
- Installed 7 Stormwater Planter Boxes
- Installed 7 rain gardens
- Installed 2 french drains
- Planted 47 trees
- Removed 900 square feet of concrete
In total, these projects have a storage capacity of 31,600 gallons.
The Water Wise Neighborhood Champions have also created a list of green infrastructure priority projects. This list can be found in the Water Wise Tremé Lookbook below.