The Water Challenge initiative is a collaboration between Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, The Idea Village and the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) that aims to identify and support entrepreneurial solutions that apply innovative approaches to how we live with water.
Each year during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week one day is designated as Water Challenge Day. Organizations, environmentalists, and industry leaders gather to share and discuss better solutions for how we live with water.
The morning will begin with a civic design pitch competition “Living with Water” that will be awarding $25,000 to the winner who best focuses on increasing civil participation in social and environmental change. This year’s finalists are: Jennifer Blanchard, Contraflow; Michel Varisco, Turning; and Amy Stelly and Darryl Reeves, Drop in the Bowl.
Throughout the day there will be presentations from startups in water management from the Water Challenge Peer Mentorship Program, Propeller’s accelerator program to help water innovators.
An afternoon panel session is also scheduled, which will include an overview of the water landscape in the region. Both New Orleans City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and Director for Environmental Defense Fund’s Mississippi River Delta Restoration project Steve Cochran will be in attendance.
“I am really excited to participate in this event and discover what our talented social entrepreneurs have designed to confront the critical issue of managing local flooding and subsidence through storm water management,” says Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell. “With the additional threats of rising sea levels and disastrous coastal land loss, managing our water is an urgent necessity. New Orleans will eventually succumb to encroaching water unless we find effective solutions for rebuilding our wetlands and preserving, not destroying, our state’s incredible biodiversity.”
Additionally, Propeller released that various agencies such as the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans and the Data Center will present on entrepreneurial opportunities in water management and coastal restoration, an industry with $50 billion slated to be spent over the next fifty years.
Last but not least, the Water Challenge culminates in a $10,000 pitch competition that will present in front of a panel of judges including Elisa Speranza of CH2M HILL and Jimmy Roussel of the New Orleans Startup Fund. The finalists include: Don and Jon Adams, Advanced Berm Technologies; Mark Bernstein, Magnolia Land Partners; Dan Johnson, Greenman Dan Inc.; Gary Shaffer and Demetra Kandalepas, Wetland Resources, LLC; and John Tesvich, Riverbottom Tech.