Can Meandering Paths Connect a Fragmented Planning System? Developing a Regional Governance Structure to Enable Watershed Planning in Southeast Louisiana



Full course description

Louisiana’s flat geography, proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, and seasonal rain events make the state especially susceptible to flooding. Risks are particularly high because water can flow rapidly into flood-prone areas. Major flooding in 2016 led policymakers to recognize that the vulnerabilities and inequities exposed by hurricanes Katrina and Rita extended inland, as did environmental risks from flooding. The creation of regional governance bodies for watersheds and a focus on aligning state agencies led the Louisiana Watershed Initiative to propose a paradigm shift around floodplain management. Regionalizing flood-hazard policy is a new approach in Louisiana, where local governments historically treated water management as a geographically discrete planning or engineering problem.

Within a landscape of regulatory skepticism, how can politically disconnected jurisdictions and communities with connected watershed challenges collaborate to develop an inclusive model for governing water, sharing resources, and achieving a collective vision?

How might the strategies and resources used for regional watershed management integrate distributional and procedural equity at all levels?

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