In the Arena: Going beyond the pumps for flood control

NEW ORLEANS -- Whether it is a major late-summer hurricane, or strong downpour, when it rains hard in New Orleans, the pumps need help (even when they are all working).

The Water Institute of the Gulf is here to help. The non-profit research organization works on ways to protect coastal communities from rising seas and keep them dry.

"We got our start after Hurricane Katrina and Rita," Amy Wold, the Director of Communications for the Water Institute of the Gulf, explained on WGNO's In the Arena with John Young.  "There was a whole lot of visits to the Netherlands. And, part of that visit was to go to Deltares."

Deltares is an similar type of organization in the Netherlands, which has its own struggle with water.

"You had all these state and local leaders going," says Wold. "They came back and went, 'We want one of those. We want a Deltares.'"

They got the Water Institute of the Gulf.

The institute's latest research is looking into what happens to water in Gentilly when it goes underground.

"This will be the first groundwater monitoring system New Orleans has had," said Wold. "We will also have some modeling put together so that we can kind of see what it will do in the future and how to react."

What they learn from the Gentilly project can be applied to the entire city and to other coastal communities.

"It is meant to be kind of a showcase of what we can do," she said. "So, it is great to talk about water resiliency and living with water. But, it is another thing to have a place where these projects are on the ground. And, you can go and say, 'That works.' And, we are showing you what it looks like when it works."

In the Arena with John Young airs Sunday morning on WGNO at 6:30 a.m.