Finding Common Ground on Water in Louisiana

Participants of the Louisiana Water Synergy Project met Monday, May 6th at Loyola University, New Orleans. As many participants come from different sectors of industry but face similar challenges regarding water quality and quantity issues, collaborative thinking led to creative actions to address those challenges. For example, a user of traditional water treatment shared that monitoring dissolved oxygen levels in their mixing tanks helped reduce Nitrogen output, while those experienced with using wetlands as a natural nutrient and sediment removal process extolled the nutrient-cleaning benefits of their approach. Despite different approaches to treatment, both expressed interest in nutrient credit trading.

Dr. Gerard Learmonth of the University of Virginia showcased the UVA Chesapeake Bay Game. The game allows players to take on the role of a farmer, waterman, land developer, or a regulator and make land management decisions. These decisions produce true-to-life results enumerated in a Bay health grade, Nitrogen levels, and wildlife subsistence, as well as giving a profit and loss report. After playing a round of the game under different roles, Dr. Learmonth explained the process of designing a watershed collaboration tool for Louisiana. Discussion ensued regarding who the stakeholders would be, what environmental factors would be included, and where the requisite data would come from.

Dr. Mark Davis of the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy highlighted the urgency of making proactive water management decisions in his presentation on the Mississippi River and the state of water law across the United States. Dr. Davis challenged meeting attendees to recognize how much water they use, how much they have, and how much they have to share as freshwater becomes an increasingly sought-after resource.

This meeting is an example of how the Louisiana Water Synergy Project brings together representatives from multiple industries to create a forum for regional collaboration to address water quality, quantity, and storm water challenges in southern Louisiana. Collaboration opportunities have already been identified regarding water reuse, use of wetlands for water quality improvement, and water transfer strategies. This project will be used as a format to be replicated in other regions, as water is a rising topic of concern in the US and around the globe.

Want to get involved? Plan to join us next at Action 2020 at Yale University, July 17-18, 2013 in New Haven, CT. Or, visit for more information on the project.