by Lindsay Glatz
Broad+Water is a creative place-making project that will highlight Broad Street’s unique water management infrastructure. Water management continues to be a crucial community issue in New Orleans today; from the system’s original design at the turn of the last century to combat yellow fever and constant flooding, through Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, to the recent tax-rate increase for system maintenance and upgrades that will double sewerage and water utility bills over the next eight years. The Broad Street commercial corridor runs through some of the most vibrant and culturally- significant communities in New Orleans—the so-called “back street” communities, including Tremé, Central City, Faubourg St. John, and Mid-City—and is the backbone of New Orleans’ underground drainage system, collecting and pumping all of the water in the historic core of the city through a latticework of canals, culverts, and pumping stations [see drainage map]. While these critical operations shaped the Broad Street neighborhoods and the city at large, their functioning goes largely unseen, except for the large, turn-of-the-last-century pumping stations in the Broad Street neutral ground. As Broad Street neighborhoods undergo a renaissance, and the city begins a new era of sustainable water management, visualizing and celebrating the city’s water management infrastructure is a critical part of learning to live and thrive in our watery delta landscape. With this project we will contribute to the general public’s understanding of the complexity and importance of New Orleans’ drainage system by selecting art projects that highlight our shared experience of “living with water” and visually describe how the drainage pumps are critical to life in New Orleans.