Introduction to the Louisiana Watershed Initiative

To prepare for guidance on 1.2 billion in CDBG-MIT funding, the State of Louisiana has spent the last year building the foundational elements of the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, which was established by Gov. Edwards in 2018 to serve as a coordinated, interagency structure at the state level for watershed-based flood risk reduction efforts.

Initiative activities include:

(1) the establishment of statewide regional watershed boundaries

(2) the formation of regional steering committees

(3) facilitating procurement of hydrologic and hydraulic models that—together—will cover the entire state and provide both state and regional entities with the science and data to better understand and address their risk in coordination with anticipated CDBG-MIT project and planning development activities.

Extensive outreach efforts (statewide, nationally, and internationally) were undertaken to inform this process and enhance next steps in program implementation.  For example, a statewide Regional Capacity Building Grant Program was launched in August 2019 to incentivize formation of regional steering committees and to support anticipated local and regional efforts associated with watershed-level outreach, project design, and planning activities.

Attend this session to learn more about the Louisiana Watershed Initiative’s long-term goals and next steps in program implementation from state staff and leading agency representatives.

Moderator:

Alexandra Carter

Resiliency Planning Manager

Louisiana Office of Community Development

Alex Gelpi Carter, AICP, is a Resilience Planning Manager with Louisiana’s Office of Community Development (OCD). She manages HUD CDBG mitigation grant funds to implement the goals and objectives of the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, which was launched in August 2018 by Governor John Bel Edwards and aims to lead a long-range vision for the state’s multi-pronged approach to mitigating future flood risk focused on natural boundaries. She is also the former Planning, Zoning and Code Enforcement Director of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. In her role as Director, she and her team successfully restructured the Department to enhance function and performance: authoring, reviewing, recommending and presenting land use, zoning, and subdivision regulations for Council adoption to enhance the community’s quality of life and address long-standing community issues, concerns and desires. She also prepared, pursued adoption, and implemented an Administrative Hearing procedure to more efficiently adjudicate long standing violations of the Code. Alex also served as the 2017-2018 APA Louisiana Metro New Orleans Section Director. In this role, networking and educational opportunities, volunteer events, and membership outreach and participation significantly increased. Alex previously worked as a Planner in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, assisting with the establishment and promotion of pedestrian and businesses improvement districts. She graduated with honors from UNO (Masters, 2011), with a concentration in housing, community, and economic development; and Loyola University New Orleans (BFA, 2009).

 

Panelists:

Patrick W. Forbes, P.E.

Executive Director

Louisiana Office of Community Development

Office of Community Development Executive Director Pat Forbes oversees the state’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery programs funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Forbes’ oversight includes housing, economic development, infrastructure and planning programs for recovery from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and Isaac, and the 2016 floods, as well as resilience planning activities.

Previously, Forbes managed the Louisiana Recovery Authority’s infrastructure section and before Hurricane Katrina, he served as an engineer in the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities.
Prior to his state service, Forbes worked as a consulting environmental engineer, owned and operated his own company, and worked at a paper mill.
Forbes earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

 

Monique Boulet

CEO

Acadiana Planning Commission

Monique Boulet serves as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Acadiana Planning Commission, APC. Boulet lead the U.S. EDA Economic Development District federal designation of Louisiana Planning District 4 with the creation of APC in 2015 and the federal Economic Development District designation following in 2017. She is currently leading the 7-parish planning district, the 6-parish Metropolitan Planning Organization, the 9-parish Opportunity Zone initiative and the 16-parish Louisiana Watershed Initiative Region 5 initiative.

Boulet is known for her ability to solve complex problems with public and private collaboration crossing political and economic boundaries. In 2016, Boulet was selected by the National Organizations of Development Organizations to participate in the US Economic Development Administration Emerging Leaders Program.

Following the Louisiana Flood events of 2016, under Boulet’s leadership Acadiana became a federal and state “Best Practice” example for regional watershed planning and implementation. In 2017, Acadiana received the first regional mitigation award of $25 million focused on flooding. This work was recognized in the Forth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) presented to the President and mandated by Congress.

Prior to working in regional government, Boulet worked in the private sector in a start-up oil field service company and specialized in strategic business planning in addition to advertising and marketing. Boulet received her Executive Master of Business Administration from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She was born and raised in Acadiana, is married to David Boulet and is the mother of 4 children, Kathleen, David, Zachary and Samuel.

 

Dr. Emad Habib

Professor

University of LA at Lafayette

Emad Habib is an Endowed Chair in the College of Engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He received his doctoral degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering in 2001 from the University of Iowa. His research expertise is in surface hydrology with focus on precipitation estimation and validation; hydrologic modeling; flood prediction; water resource management; uncertainty modeling of hydro-ecological models; and development of technology-based educational innovations. He published more than 70 peer-reviewed journal articles and several book chapters. Dr. Habib is the Director of the Watershed Flood Center and the Interim Director of the Institute for Coastal and Water Research at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He received the 2016 University Distinguished Professor Award, and other awards including the Journal of Hydrologic Engineering Best Journal Award and the Watershed Excellence Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers. He served on the Precipitation Committee of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Education Committee of the Consortium of Universities for Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences Inc. (CUAHSI), and the Environmental Water Resources Institute (EWRI) Task Committee on the Use and Application of NWS WSR-88D Doppler Radar (NEXRAD). He participated in the 2012 and 2017 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan Study. Dr. Habib is a Professional Engineer registered in the states of Louisiana and Texas.

 

James Waskom

Director

GOHSEP

James Waskom, was appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards on January 11, 2016 as the Director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP). Through GOHSEP, Director Waskom is responsible for homeland security and emergency and disaster preparedness and response for the State of Louisiana. His office coordinates the State’s activities to prepare for – prevent where possible – respond to, recover from and mitigate against emergencies or disaster events.

Director Waskom is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army who served the United States for 33 years, including three combat tours during Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn, totaling 30 months in a combat zone. He previously owned his own law firm and practiced in the Acadiana region.  He worked as a contract attorney with 15th Judicial District Court’s Indigent Defender’s Office. He is a former prosecutor in the 19th Judicial District and Inspector General of the Louisiana National Guard.  He has a Master of Strategic Studies, MSS from the United States Army War College, a Juris Doctor, Law from Louisiana State University and is a Licensed Attorney.

As Director of GOHSEP and in carrying out his responsibilities for homeland security and emergency and disaster response and recovery, Waskom coordinates the activities of all agencies and organizations within the State and maintains liaison and cooperates with agencies and organizations of other States and of the Federal Government.

He acts on behalf of the Governor in the event of an emergency or disaster as Deputy Incident Commander of the Unified Command Group (UCG).  He is appointed by the Governor as the Homeland Security Advisor (HSA) for Louisiana and the Governor’s Authorized Representative (GAR) with FEMA. He directs the activities of statewide interoperability projects and serves on the Regional Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Directors Subcommittee (Regional Directors Subcommittee).

Under his leadership, GOHSEP is managing approximately $18 billion in Federal grants and more than 4,800 applicants involved in FEMA’s grant programs for more than 35,000 separate projects.