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Identifying Green Infrastructure Solutions to Build a Resilient Stormwater Management System

LaPlace, Louisiana

Featured image for the project, Identifying Green Infrastructure Solutions to Build a Resilient Stormwater Management System

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

St. John the Baptist Parish in Southeast Louisiana is working to tackle flooding and drainage issues through both gray and green infrastructure. Devastation left by Hurricane Ida in 2021 crystallized the need to develop a deeper understanding of flood risk and a plan to build a network of green infrastructure solutions within the parish’s leveed area.


About the Community

St. John the Baptist parish is located in southeast Louisiana between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The parish is bisected by the Mississippi River and nestled between three lakes, whose shorelines connect the parish to a series of waterways and marshes leading south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Approximately 42,977 people call the parish home, making it one of the smallest parishes in the state. The region is known for its Andouille Festival in October, two nationally recognized historic plantation houses located on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail, and its environmental resources. Socioeconomic vulnerabilities include the parish’s aging population, its low median income population, and limited access to jobs.

Storm surge flooding and minor flooding from heavy precipitation events cause many problems in the parish, particularly in developed areas. Currently, the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Protection Project is scheduled for completion in 2024 and designed to protect 60,000 Louisianans from the 100-year hurricane and storm surge. The planned 18.5-mile integrated protection system includes 17.5 miles of levees, drainage structures, pump stations, and nonstructural protection measures. However, the levee’s installation may create additional drainage problems in the parish.

As such, the parish recognizes the need to mitigate the impacts of flooding through enhanced drainage and stormwater management. An extensive, community-supported planning effort spearheaded by the Parish government’s Planning and Zoning Department identified the need for green infrastructure ( This project will build on the work completed in this Parish Adaptation Strategy.

About the Project

The Parish Planning and Zoning Department aims to map flood risk and identify a network of potential green infrastructure solutions within the leveed area.

Ultimately the team hopes to pair the levee’s construction with a comprehensive system of green infrastructure that can preempt any drainage issues caused by the levee, manage stormwater, and reduce nuisance flooding events across the parish. This study will support the Parish in grant applications for funding to implement the identified green infrastructure solutions during and after the construction of the levee.

The Planning and Zoning Department is currently working with consultants on four different green infrastructure projects on public lands. However, further opportunities exist for more projects on both public and private land. A number of consultants in the area are available to support and implement any identified strategies.

Timeline and Milestones

  • The project is set to take approximately 12 months
    • The parish Planning and Zoning Department aims to complete the study and plan prior to installation of the levee
  • Preparations are ongoing with involvement of the general public planned for the fall.
  • Key Milestones include:
    • Recruiting a scientist to study flood risk and potential green infrastructure sites
    • Developing the detailed terms of the data collection phase together with the advising scientist(s).
    • Sharing the project details with the public to promote engagement.
    • Hosting a kick-off & participant recruitment event.
    • Presenting the results to the public.
    • Coverage in the local press.

Project Team

Community Leads

Tara Lambeth headshot

Tara Lambeth serves as the Coastal and Water Management Division Lead for St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, where she works to alleviate flood risk as a Certified Planner and Floodplain Manager. Tara received a Master of Science in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and a PhD in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans. Prior to her work with St. John the Baptist Parish, Tara served as the Assistant Director for the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology at the University of New Orleans for five years, and as the Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning for Terrebonne Parish for two and a half years.

Dov Block is a Graduate Assistant for St. John the Baptist Parish’s Coastal and Water Management Division. Dov received his Bachelor of Science in Anthropology at The Ohio State University and is currently working toward his Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree at the University of New Orleans. He is specializing in environmental and hazard mitigation planning and completing a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).


Community Science Fellow

Ally Mark Headshot

Ally Mark is a water resources engineer/watershed planner and recent California transplant to Minneapolis, MN with a passion for environmental justice. She enjoys working at the intersection of environmental science and policy to craft visionary plans that reflect and serve the communities most impacted by climate change. Over the short span of her professional life thus far, Ally has built up a variety of experiences, working across local and federal environmental policy, community organizing, communications, water quality research, and green stormwater management. She is excited to apply this broad skillset to community science and the Thriving Earth Exchange! In her spare time, Ally volunteers for an AAPI political organization and is exploring her new home in Minnesota through the BIPOC Outdoors Twin Cities group.


Scientist Wanted

The Planning and Zoning Department at St. John the Baptist Parish is seeking a scientific partner(s) to map flood risk and develop an accompanying network of green infrastructure solutions to address drainage and stormwater management issues. The scientist(s) would be expected to participate in the project through its completion (around 12 months).

The team prefers scientists with knowledge of and experience working in the ecology and environment of the region.

Hydrology and Flood Risk: We would like to deepen our understanding of flooding in the area and identify hotspots of drainage and stormwater management issues.

The scientist(s) working on this aspect of the project will need to be able to:

  • Map/identify risk based on the complex hydrology and environmental conditions in the parish
  • Respond to local concerns and incorporate local knowledge into their assessment

Green Infrastructure Siting: We want to take the results from the flood risk mapping and target green infrastructure solutions to mitigate the adverse impacts of the flooding issues. Any scientific partner working on this project component must be able to:

  • Interpret risk maps, modeling, and assessments
  • Identify green infrastructure solutions that meet the needs and risks of a certain area
  • Understand local context and respond to local concerns when selecting green infrastructure solutions


Desired Skills and Expertise:

  • Scientists with resilience/adaptation experience
  • Experience with hydrologic studies, flood maps, and green infrastructure
  • Knowledge and experience in environmental and flooding concerns in Southeast Louisiana
    • Preference for a scientist with the ability to visit the community in-person
  • Understanding and respect for the unique cultures and perspectives in Southeast Louisiana
  • Experience and/or desire to engage with citizen science
  • Willingness to connect science to local concerns
  • Strong listening and collaboration skills
  • Student engagement in the project would be great!