New Orleans Convent to Become Large Urban Wetland

Hurricane Katrina damaged a Catholic convent in New Orleans. Then the nuns spearheaded a project to transform the land into a wetland area that will protect the city from flooding in the future.

1 minute read

January 22, 2020, 10:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink


Louisiana Wetlands

Louisiana Travel / Flickr

"In New Orleans, nuns are shepherding a former Catholic convent that was badly damaged in Hurricane Katrina towards becoming a 25-acre urban wetland, one of the largest in the United States," reports Alex Fox.

The $30 million Mirabeau Water Garden project will have the capacity to absorb almost 10 million gallons of stormwater runoff, writes Fox. "The water will still trickle down into the city’s old drainage system, but filtering through the wetland will mete out the water from even the largest deluges more gradually, preventing storm drains from becoming overwhelmed."

The Sisters of St. Joseph decided not to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina and wanted to see the land used in a way that addressed the threat of climate change.

"The nuns commissioned a design firm to create a water management project aimed at fostering environmental, educational and spiritual well-being, and leased it to the city of New Orleans for $1 on the condition that the property be used to preserve and protect the environment, enhance local quality of life and reduce flood risk," says Fox.

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