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OneRouge Community Check-In - Week 122

Week #122

This talk is a continuation of our series on the Earth’s Climate Change with a focus on the EBR Groundwater Assessment (quality, quantity and cost) featuring speakers:

  • Dr. Scott A. Hemmerling (Senior Research Scientist, The Water Institute of the Gulf)

  • Miriam Belbidia (Co-Director, Imagine Water Works)

We will start the session with a special announcement from Tristi Charpentier on the Huey & Angelina Wilson Foundation’s information session on the ‘People Focus’ of their strategic plan.

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!


Speaker Notes

Casey Phillips: we have a very we have a special announcement and presentation from OG original day one Rouge participant miss Tristi, take it away, please.

Tristi Carpenter: Good morning, everyone on this college football eve. I, if you can't tell that I am wearing all of my tires, cuz like Mr. Bell, I'm a two time graduate of LSU. And my dress is actually yellow and purple and blue. Happy for the weekend. I was also a four year member of tiger band. So college football season is like my favorite time of year. So I'm now in my happy place. But that has absolutely nothing to do with the announcement that I'm making today. So for those of you, I have not met yet. I'm tri sharp andante and I work at the human Angelina Wilson foundation. I hope to meet you in person sometime soon. And for those of you who I have met happy to be in space with you again. So you have probably heard us multiple times over the last couple of years, talking about our strategic plan and some changes that we're gonna start making as we move forward. Jan presented to you guys earlier this year on our capacity building Institute that we have 30 organizations going through right now. And we've also talked about really wanting to have an intense focus in north Baton Rouge. And that project is moving along as well. Our third project is around people, so we know that the capital region can only be as strong as the people who inhabit it. And we have an explicit focus from our founders on those who are most in need in our communities. So we're talking to folks who are in poverty, who are living below the Alice threshold, and those who are returning from in. so we have developed a new grant program that will actually launch on October 1st. There is information on our website and I will draw up the link for you guys. This project is called engage and there are three overarching goals for this project. One, we want to decrease the recidivism, right? So when people come back home from incarceration, they're not cycling right back in. We want to increase the healthcare utilization of those folks who are under the Alice threshold, because we know that when you take care of your health, you are better able to thrive, take care of your family, go to work, hold a job. And if you are taking care of your primary needs, you are less likely to need more costly, more extensive acute needs going to the hospital and them being solid with incredible medical debt. The third field that we are looking at doing is decreasing the percentage of our community. That is liquid asset poor. Those who don't know liquid asset poor means that if you lost all of your income, you could subsist at a poverty level for three months, less than 50% of the people in our community could do that. And so what we wanna do is help. Grow and maintain their assets. So those are our three overarching goals. We will have grant applications available for each of those strains. Within those, you can choose to be either a direct service grantee. So you are working directly with clients and helping them grow those things. You could also be a partnerships and collaboration grantee, where you are helping to bring together other organizations who are working towards those goals, making sure that everyone understands best practices. We are breaking down silos and working together, finding ways that we fit with one another and do referrals. And then the third piece is around systems change. So if you want to go after changing some policies and practices within our community that are holding people back, we wanna support you in those endeavors. So broad speaking, that is the program it's called engage. We're engaging people in helping those who are most in need in our community. Around again, reducing the recidivism. Increasing healthcare utilization and really helping with financial stability. I dropped the link to the information on our website. I'm also gonna go ahead and tell you to save the date for October 5th. We will have a workshop for anyone who's interested in applying so that you can understand how to put forth your best application. That applications will be outcomes focused. So you will tell us how you are going to get folks to attain certain milestones along the path to success. And I will drop that link as well because we do have registration open for that.

David Beach: I will just say that it's gonna be fantastic because Tristi's leading it one, so you can all expect that. But no this truly does go back to the the intentions and the legacy that Mr and Mrs. Wilson planned to leave as Tristan said their focus was on uplifting. Those who are most in need, so they may reach their full potential. And as we looked at ways in which we can support those who are formally incarcerated in the Alice population or below we felt like these were metrics that were hierarchy in the way that if we can support and move the needle and make an impact along these goals, it's going to affect so many other areas of their lives. They can start to be more forward thinking. They can avoid these other crises that may cause them to lose their job, or have some kind of major financial disaster. It can help to reunify families. There's so many, there's so many aspects that these three metrics will affect and touch that we just feel like that, these are important metrics to us seek to impact.

Jan Ross: It is an exciting time for the Wilson Foundation. As Tristi's said, we have kicked off the capacity building initiative, which is really our way of investing in the organizations that we partner with each and every day without them, we couldn't do what we do. So that's very important to us. For those of you that work in the people arena know that as trite has described, it is a different relationship with the Wilson foundation. But don't let that. Get you too nervous. We are here to help and walk through how you will function in this new manner. So reach out to us as Tristi had said she has given her. The phone number that she has given is the number for the office. So all of us are here to help you as you work through this transition. We're going through it too. And we are in hopes that as what Casey had had asked about a recording, we had done that previously with the prison reentry initiative that we had kicked off about five years ago. And Tristi had done a great job with that. And I think that is something that would be very helpful for those that are, considering applying. So I think that's something that we'll have in the works also. So thanks for asking for.

Pepper Roussel: Good morning. So glad that y'all are here with us and spending part of your day Friday morning to kick off the 123rd call that we will be having on this fine morning where we'll be uplifting discussions around poverty and water. We've got two guests this morning who are approaching water from very different perspectives.

Miriam Belbidia: Good morning. Thank you all so much for having me. So my name is Miriam Belbidia and I am based in New Orleans where I've been working on flood mitigation, hazard mitigation work as well as a focus on mutual aid for the last 15 years. So I actually started off my work with the city of new Orleans post Katrina working on hazard mitigation grants. A lot of that was focused on different elevation projects things that were really focused on individual households and mitigation and my career over the last I guess decade has really been, trying to focus on how to shift from looking at things from a sort of house by house basis. more at the community level and really looking at more of a systems approach to reducing risk within our communities. I did a Fulbright in the Netherlands focused on, on water management as well and was trying to apply some of those lessons, which brought me, got a variety of paths looking at things like brain infrastructure low impact development but always have been really trying to find where are the points of influence in which we can actually have systems level change. In the last few years I've been really focused on looking at community networks and thinking about mutual aid as a way to respond to both short term crises, as well as how to shift those systemic issues over the long haul. And we shifted some of our focus, trying to integrate more science and art into our work thinking about how we communicate and connect around these issues related to living with water. And that has led us into some exciting directions. We've been focused on a lot of mutual aid work since 2019. So in 2019 we lost a mutual aid response network that has grown to over 10,000 people in the sort of Southeast Louisiana area. And that meant, as we know, the last few years have been very response heavy to many concurrent disasters. And so while initially our thought had been that would be a network that would be active during hurricane season, of course, with COVID 19 we ended up. Rolling out that initiative early and supporting communities through things like housing insecurity job laws, food insecurity all of the sort of systemic issues that were especially touched by COVID 19 and then the subsequent, like many hurricanes and other disasters that we've seen in this area. And some of the things that we were able to do with that was to leverage that network, to support our neighbors from Southwest Louisiana, who were impacted by hurricane Laura. So as y'all may recall, there was a huge influx of folks who had evacuated from lake Charles area to new Orleans. And we were able to. Utilize the network of mutual aid folks in New Orleans who had personal experience with this, that magnitude of disaster and wanted to be able to connect with people directly and support them. And so this was a way to avoid things like donation, dumping and other things we often see in disasters and have folks directly connect to one another to address the needs that they had that might not be typically provided in emergency situations. And what we've found is that really that personal connection and that human connection seeing people as neighbors in crises did wonders for folks to be able to come through that disaster. In our response to hurricane Ida, we had launched a two week supply distribution site. And again, we tried to think about folks. Not just needs in terms of immediate supplies, but also the ways in which we connect to one another in times of crisis. And also trying to think more holistically investor, the needs that folks had, we provided things like food music in which we were able to also pay musicians who've been impacted by COVID 19 and different storms and then also healing services. So really trying to provide some wraparound models of care. And I am really excited to be here with y'all today. I'll leave more time for the q and a thanks.

Pepper Roussel: So we're probably we're gonna hear a little bit more about imagine waterworks, which Miriam is co-founder and leading now. And it's one of the really more amazing projects that's come out of New Orleans. They were featured a couple years ago in a couple of different ways and I will leave the thunder to Miriam, but moving from living with disaster type water and mitigating you post disaster to groundwater and consumables, which are really where my heart is. But, I understand the need to be able to live through south Louisiana swamps and rain of rain and wa weather events. I will turn it over to Scott.

Dr. Scott A. Hemmerling: Oh, good morning. And thank you all for having me here. It's great to talk with everyone. I think that's actually a great connection because what I'm gonna talk about is issues of water scarcity, and which is really tough to think about when we see an excess of water on a daily basis from storms and everything. But when we think of groundwater and things like that, there's actually scarcity and our aquifers are at risk due to over pumping salt, water intrusion, and issues like that. But to begin, I'm Scott Hemmerling, I'm a senior research scientist with the water Institute of the Gulf located here in Baton Rouge. Y'all might know us from our building on the old city dock. The one that looks like the glass version of the star wars, sand crawler out on the river. But yeah, a lot of my work with the Institute, we're a nonprofit that focuses on coastal issues. We have a team of ecologists and geologists and a lot of engineers, scientists like that. But I head of our social science program. We also have a planning section that recently merged together. So a lot of my work has really been. Trying to bring the voice of residents and community members into the coastal planning process. And I strongly believe, and I think it can be shown that we can't have equitable climate solutions if those most impacted our decisions. Aren't part of that decision making process. So a lot of my work has been trying to find ways to directly engage with communities, take their information from them and translate it into, things that the folks at our coastal protection agencies and other agencies can use in their models. But also just make sure that voice is there. Make sure that when we think about these issues, we're thinking of the objectives that the public wanna, which brings us to work with the capital ground water commission conservation commission. I'm gonna post a link here to the water Institute page. some of the work that we've been doing since really 2018 on this. And it started in 2018, working with the commission to help them develop a strategic plan for the Southern Hills aquifer. Now, a lot of folks don't realize that we actually have issues of salt water intrusion, and it's directly impacting and we'll have future impacts on the quality of our ground water, whether for industry or for our drinking water. So part of this strategic plan was to develop objectives, to help us really conserve the afer for future generations. But one of the objectives that we have for this is, there's a couple terms we wanna make sure that they client quality, drinking water made available equitably to all residents of the district indefinitely. Now there's a few terms in there. Indefinitely means we want this to be available for our kids. We want this to be available for future generations. Equitably means we need to distribute it in a way that, you know, if. Think about large volume users and small value users. Are we, how are we addressing these types of issues in high quality water? So obviously that's a big part of this and all of these have a human component. So while a lot of the institutes work on this is really let's quantify what we have in the afer, because we really don't know how much water is there. We know how long it takes to refill. It takes generations for the water to trickle down to replenish. So we have to have now, but issues of salt, water intrusion, and things like that right now that the option, there's a bat Rouge fault line and salt water is being pulled across this, into our drinking water. The temporary solution, which is really a bandaid solution is they have these scavenger Wells that they put up put there, which pull the salt water up before it makes it into our drinking water. So we have wells to pull the salt water out and send it out into the river. Now, obviously that doesn't. Address our issues of the over pumping. That's actually pulling this salt water into our apple firsts. So that's a lot of what we're doing with the Institute in general, working with the commission is let's find better ways that we can do this, whether that's putting industrial usage or in some cases, switching to river water. Okay. And my work is really focused on this past fall. I did a survey, a broad survey that went out to, hundreds of users and we have all of this information, public awareness. And there's not a lot of awareness of these issues among the general public of the district. So what we wanna do is find out why that is find out what solutions will work for Baton Rouge, what solutions will work for the residents. But part of the next phase is to work directly with residents. And that's what I wanna reach out to y'all for. If any of you want to review these survey results with me and help explain the results that we see, because. The people living in the communities are the ones who know, our water costs too high. Are they too low? What do we think of our drinking water? What do we, these types of issues. So I really want to take these survey results, which, tell us a problem, but really let's dig down deeper into this, the reasons behind the survey results and let's understand northbound south Baton Rouge. One survey is missing a lot that we need to talk to residents to figure out, let's look at the causes behind these survey results. So I'd be glad to talk to you all about the survey, and I'd be glad to talk to folks in the future to help us really bring your voice to the Ary groundwater conservation commission.

Casey Phillips: Scott, if you could stay off mute real quick. You like everyone who's grounded in science, you have a very balanced way of presenting the information. Awesome. And I appreciate that. So for the human, like ricochet effect, let's just, can we get to the scare, the hell out of you like moment just for a second, not to be sensationalized it, and then let's like work backwards. I have a two part question. How scary is it? Is the data right on where our aquifer is and what are the three things that are creating this critical moment and just be very honest about it. And because we need to understand as a community why we're, what we're, where we're at and why we are.

Dr. Scott A. Hemmerling: I would actually say the scariest part of this is the unknown. Now we, in, in other words, we don't have data. We don't know exactly how much water is there. We know we are over pumping it. We see that by the salt water coming across. So I would say the lack of complete data, and we're working with this with LSU S G S and other folks to help us quantify this. So part of this project will be to help us identify these issues, not to get two sciencey, we, our back Rouge water pulls from one level of sound that we have different depths of sand. We have a 1500 foot to 2000 foot industry draws from another, both of these at this time are really, as we think about, but it's sucking on the straw so heavy. That's why the salt water is coming across. And the solution, as I mentioned, the scavenger wills aren't enough. We need to, we, we don't have a timeline, but we know that. We can't let salt water get into our drinking water and we are over pulling the aquifers at this time. So again, it's a tough sell because we're trying to talk about scarcity. When, what we see on the surface is abundance. So that would my main, and again, this is the kind of the science view, but also per we don't know, we don't have, and the public doesn't have a lot of information on this. So I think we need to increase awareness increase, we push for conservation measures. And I think some of these conservation measures, are gonna be some people be in favor of some people won't do. We put a cap on non-essential uses for people who irrigate their lawns at certain times, that's going to, I have a feeling that's gonna, you're gonna get very inequitable. People who have long irrigation systems are gonna say, no, wait, don't do that. People who have a small plot of land that don't irrigate are gonna. but yeah, that makes sense to me, if we're gonna, why should we, help? Why should we supplement people who have, these huge laws as an example, but I think, yeah, the main thing is we just don't know. We know we are over drying initial models, show that we're, we're pulling in quicker than we can replenish. It takes again, hundreds of years that capital area or the Southern Hills aquifer. And just the way these work, the water, basically, there's a spot in Mississippi where the water comes in and it trickles down over hundreds of years that we're longer before it makes it to the aquifer. So everything we're pulling out now it's gonna take hundreds of years to replace. So I think that's the main thing that we just, we need to start thinking of conservation now, before it becomes an issue, because it will become an issue in the future. Proactive thinking and policy making is what we do amazing in Louisiana.

Pepper Roussel: I wanna circle it back to community engagement, right? So not just for the survey, but also what does equity look like when we're talking about living with water in all of the ways that we live with water? So there is a question in the chat where, and how was the survey distributed Scott that's for you, but for Miriam. Can you tell us more about how imagine water works and what equity looks like and how community is involved in that way?

Miriam Belbidia: We were founded 10 years ago and have been thinking deeply about who are the folks that are most impacted by natural hazards by manmade hazards and how folks who are most impacted need to be centered in the conversations. And so our team is majority Black. We are majority queer and we have been thinking deeply about how to make sure that Our work in our daily operations, as well as in our programs that the community that we serve is best reflected. And so that means, for example, when we are redistributing funds, which we were able to, for example, redistribute a hundred, $5,000 within a week of hurricane Ida to community organizations, we prioritize those going to black and indigenous and people of color led organizations who are serving their communities. Similarly when we are launching different programs, that is also the ways in between prioritized who we. who we prioritize for things like micrograms. We led a public health workers initiative for folks who were public health workers that had also been impacted by hurricane Ida and launched a program that committed a hundred thousand dollars in micrograms to those folks. And for that, we also prioritized folks who were LGBTQ as well as black indigenous and people of color. And so that is how we frame that within our programming and within sort of decisions we make in terms of how to best serve our community. We just deeply hold the belief that if we want different results, then where we are currently, then we need to have different folks and positions of power and leadership. And that is reflected in all of the work that we do.

Pepper Roussel: And I can imagine how people would say that's crazy talk. However as we attempt to operationalize equity and to bring voices to the tables that have not been there before Scott, can you share a little bit about the feedback that you're expecting from the survey and how it is that we can amplify those who will be most desperately impacted if their voices are not heard adequately, right?

Dr. Scott A. Hemmerling: Yeah, I'd be glad to. And question on the survey, this was a scientifically distributed survey. So we made sure that the sample, I think we had to hit 300 respondents across the district to make sure was statistically significant and representative of the demographics of the entire community. So the survey was distributed in such a way to be representative of the population of the district, which includes EBR, but also portions of Ascension West Baton Rouge up into the Felicianas, but as for the. Equity example. And I'll give an example of one of the results that, that we had on the survey. When we talk about now what are the conservation measures that the public would favor? And there were a couple things in there. There were these kind of mandated ones, such as imposing caps on, on non-essential uses or in, for large value use, just having a rate structure that large value uses you hit a certain level. It's gonna cost more when you use more. Now, when you think of the results for that. Yeah. those, there was a most amount of oppositions to those kind of, as opposed to giving tax incentives for, low flow, shower heads and things like that. But these legislative things, there was the most opposition to that were, the order of the people were like, no, we do, there are no legislative, but there was also about that same amount in favor of it. I think that speaks to what I was saying earlier about that disparity in EDR in general, where yeah, if you're that large value user, you're gonna say no I do not want higher rates for my, whereas if you are you, I get, if you have again, a small lawn, you don't have a pool. You don't have, you're going to say yeah, if I'm not the one causing this problem, why should, the people are causing the problem? Sure. So I think that is Def there's definitely an equity issue there. The thing is there's a 50% in the middle who are like, I don't know, we need to know more, we need more information on this and that's where getting that information out. But I think some of these things is where we see in a lot of these results. And another example is, are you willing to pay extra. On your water bill to sustain the aquifer into the future. I forget the exact warning, the question, but that's the idea. And most people in general are like, yes we definitely are, but I think there's gonna be, and I think within some vote, adding an extra $2 a month could be the difference between someone bouncing three or four checks in a row. And so I think that understanding of, if you say, no, why is it because I'm living right on the edge, this extra $2, whereas someone else might say, yeah, I'll pay $5 extra a month. So understanding that, the survey can say yes or no, we are willing to pay this much. This is how much we're willing to pay. But I think there's clear division in -and I think in some cases that an understanding of, yeah, we have cheap water here in that Baton Rouge among the cheapest in the country, which again, that's something else. A lot of people probably don't realize because what we call our water bill is water. Sewage and trash all in one. And the water is the smallest part of that, but we still call it the water bill. So if we see a trash increase, our water bill is going up. So I think getting that kind of understanding of the cost of our water. So yeah, our water is cheap here, those types of issues, I think we really need to dig down before and get the commission good information before they say yeah, let's raise the rates by this amount. Here's, that's gonna have disproportionate impact on this community or this community and benefit this one. And we need to make sure that there's equity in how these rates structures are addressed. So those are just with the rate structures of the fees who pays for it. Are we willing to raise costs and water and management and conservation measures, the conservation measures are, could be very inequitably, distributed, and cost structures could be inequitably distributed.

Pepper Roussel: So we see in New Orleans that institutions, and it looks like in East Baton Rouge, that it is industry that are larger consumers of water than any place else. So think the universities. No offense, Exxon Mobil, right? Where these are , or these are the entities that are taking more. And it doesn't seem as if they are paying what would be a fair share or even offsetting what could be something that would create a lot of problems for increases to the to the population, right? What are the possibilities that we could use? Either policy law, peaceful protests? I don't know. Something to where, when we say equity, that it's not a buzzword for responsibility back to the people who can least support it.

Dr. Scott A. Hemmerling: I would say the first thing is just an awareness of when ground, when public meetings for the groundwater conservation commissions meeting. Because a lot of these and some of the alternatives, and there are, there's a number of alternatives that came out of this strategic planning effort. And some of them are tax on industrial usage, but there's also, one and the alternatives is switching to river water in some cases, Exxon for reasons, and there's reasons for it, but they're using groundwater and they're located right on the river. Now some of that is a lot of their, the groundwater is cleaner. For their machinery and stuff, they need cleaner water. So you would have to clean the river water before you could use it. But all of those types of alternatives, I think being aware of when the Ary front border conservation commission is having public meetings and getting your comments out there, getting your lawyers voice out there when the strategic plan is out there, I think just I can provide links. So not let you all know whenever there are our gonna be public meetings related to this, but I think that's the main thing. And also. And industry is a huge draw on one of the sands that they hit. But you, we also, that Rouge water is a private water company. And that's one thing that we in the survey that we ask people, do where do you get your water from the water company? But a lot of people don't realize it's not a municipal, a city owned water complet, the fly water company. And cause there, there are some other private ones mixed, but understanding that also that we have the, this, a private company, you, that we're getting our drinking water from. So I think all of these issues and how can we best manage? I think awareness of when and I found the commission, like when I, when we presented the survey results to them, they were like, we want people to know this. We want this information out there. So credit to them for wanting the information out there. And that's part of why. Yeah. I'm reaching out to y'all so I can go over the survey results, but just knowing when those meetings are attending them, People are getting their news. That's another thing where do people, a lot of people aren't aware of these issues, the people who are aware, they know it from the newspaper and the news. So it's like, how can we, are there other ways we can get this information out there to the public that, so I think. Yeah.

Pepper Roussel: So speaking of the news there has been a recent surge in of attention on Jackson, Mississippi where there is issue, of course, with the potable water, which is not, please do not misunderstand that. I'm saying that this happened last week, or even at the end of July, this has been coming for a while. Yep. Most of the reason that it has been coming is sociopolitical. The mayor is a young black socialist in Jackson and the legislature has been blocking absolutely every turn to update the the system, the infrastructure, and the governor has not intervened until now, of course, that there's a similar to Flint, Michigan crisis. So help me understand in Louisiana, this is for both you Scott and Miriam, help me understand in Louisiana, how are we doing better? Please tell me we're doing better, that we will have something that will keep us from not just running out of water, but also ensuring that even if we get close, that we can pull ourselves back from the edge,

Dr. Scott A. Hemmerling: I think. And that is, and that's those concerns that you mentioned? That's one thing that came out in the survey. People are concerned about aging infrastructure and they're concerned about more than salt water intrusion. They're concerned about pollution, about water quality in general. And I think that comes from things like Flint. And now, obviously the survey happened before Jackson, but I think where we have an advantage in Baton Rouge is our infrastructure is in fairly good shape here. I think Marion might have some different things to say about new Orleans water infrastructure, but. our aquifer. Our aquifer is a great source of high quality drinking water. It is among kind of the, it is extremely pure and it's very clean watch. So that's, I think that's an advantage that we have now, new Orleans obviously pulls from river water. You have to treat it. And that's why when you go to New Orleans, you'll notice that version. When we go to new Orleans, we notice in a hotel or family's house or something, the water is completely different there. If they're using treated river water now for a drinking water, I think most of us would probably prefer that we keep using the Acqua for water. And I think there that's the offer is our advantage that we have over some of these other places. And I think that's why it's important to conserve it for, so we have high quality drinking water into the future. We do have to make sure our infrastructure stays up to date. We don't want. We, we obviously don't have any of the types, hopefully that we know of any of the types of issues that they had in float with the pipes and all of that kind of stuff. So I think we're in better shape than all of these other places, because the quality of our aquafer

Miriam Belbidia: yeah. I think that New Orleans is somewhat different situation, certainly. And looking at what is happening in Jackson and thinking about what's happening, Louisiana, also seeing how these issues get politicized. We saw recently that the attorney general is pushing to withhold money for sewer water board over the city's defiance of the state abortion ban trigger law. And so we see how these issues can intersect and affect our infrastructure funding. And so that is something that, I find, especially concerning these issues around deferred maintenance and who pays and who are the, who are the folks that are paying for these upgrades, how those costs get distributed in ways that can even be considered equitable. When, we have these large landholders that are not paying their fair share, I think is an issue that has to be addressed as has been, on the table for many years. And at some point there's going to have to be. The political will to take it on. I think that is where community organizing and really pushing our political leaders for it is a key part of ensuring that we get outcomes that are going to benefit the rate payers and folks that are most proportionately impacted.

Pepper Roussel: And so we've talked a little bit about quality and cleanliness clean of the water itself. Meanwhile, we can actually see, you can watch refineries dumping into the river water which theoretically makes it dirtier help me understand like what are the possibilities in Baton Rouge of reserving the groundwater for just the residents and maybe using. The river water, cleaning it to a point that these larger institution or institutions or refineries could use it for whatever it is that they need to process.

Dr. Scott A. Hemmerling: I would say it would require a tra realistically it would require a transition period because as I mentioned, a lot of the equipment and everything that, that the refineries use would have to be changed out. I think one, obviously I don't think it would ever go to a hundred percent realistically. I'm not an industrial engineer or anything, but I have a feeling there's some issues that, or some things that just would not be able to switch over, but I think it would require time, money from industry and effort. But I think realistically, I think we should be able to move some of it over, but that's. That's part of the problem with the way it's set up now. The Exxon refinery has been, since the early part of the 20th century, so a lot of their infrastructure and replacing that. And it's, you look at a map of it and that you see downtown back Rouge. I'm like, God, the refineries actually looks like it covers more space than downtown bad Rouge. And considering that a lot of that and some of their folks, obviously folks at the refinery, they have to tap into, for example, drinking water or people work at the refinery. There, there is that component to it too, where it's gonna be a mixture of some things staying on groundwater. Some things could potentially transition to river water, but again, I guess the further away now we're talking about Exxon Mobil because it's right on the river, but other industries that might be further. Off of the river, then that would involve piping the water over a longer distance and things like that. And thinking logistically, getting a pipe over or through the levity to get the water there. So there's gonna be obviously some logistics closer to the river. It would probably be more cost effective and further from the river and things like that. But I think that I think a realistic future would be limiting the amount of groundwater that industry uses and the same thing with ag and agriculture. It's not as much an issue West Rouge as an agricultural uses of groundwater. It's not as severe an issue as we see in Southwest Louisiana where using groundwater for the rice fields and the crawfish fields where, you know, that's a lot of water, you need to flood these fields. So it's not quite to that extent, but back on the, on the other side of the river could also be potential issue.

Casey Phillips: Scott long time listener, first time caller on groundwater here. So forgive the elementary questions, right? So we're talking about what's in the ground and then let's look up at what comes down from the skies, right? So where are great water solutions in this conversation? Especially for farming and industrial use and of course, potable water for drinking as well, but a hybrid solution approach. What, how does that factor into this conversation?

Dr. Scott A. Hemmerling: Even for like urban gardening and people that backyard gardens, I think things like rain barrels and things like that are, that's one of the, one of the things that we brought up as some of the reservation measures that we might, we talked about the kinda managing youth on regulation, like increasing the rates and putting pins and things like that. But things like. Smart irrigation systems, taxing centers, what but rain barrels and other things like that are, that, that is an option at the local level for that. Now I think there's a, there's a, I think that there's going to be a vibe to, own rain barrels, which, that's realistic if side that's how some people will look at it. I think rain barrels and other types of rain collection systems could help for, like you said with, some of these, maybe not your portable water, but for small gardens, if you want to irrigate your yard, I think those are options. And that's one of the things that we wanna talk to folks about and the follow up to the survey is these types of conservation measures and what you think people work in that Baton Rouge. Now things like rain barrels, we would obviously have to do an education campaign. So it's, so people understand what what's the value to me. Cuz there's also, if everyone had rain barrels or this type of it also potentially reduce some of the runoff and if everyone that Baton Rouge had these types of systems, maybe wouldn't see as much flooding. Now that's obviously a hydrologist would probably completely disagree with that statement that we're not taking enough, but I think that's, that has to be one of the conservation measures. If we can reduce our water usage on for irrigation of our yards, for example, through rain barrels and rain collection systems. Let's see if we can have a tax incentive or provide them free for residents through some type of, program that we have where they're, through one of the state or federal agencies, I think that would be a great option. And it also brings awareness to the issue. I think something like that. I think the solution, I think, to tie your question to Pepper's question earlier, we need a multi-tiered solution. These individual, very local household level solutions combined with kind of system change within kind of industry structure. We need it. It's an all on the above systems approach to this where we probably can't do it all now. Conservation measures, realistically, I think when we're doing the modeling, we're starting off with saying, we might be able to reduce one to one and a half percent of the usage. As people become more aware of the issue, that we would expect that number would claim. But realistically, when we look at the overall, if everyone installed low flow shower heads, we're still taking showers. We're still using water. We're reducing. But if the population growth in Baton Rouge has been. One and a half to two and a half percent per year over the last 10 years or so. So if we can do something to reduce one and a half to two point a half percent, at least we're keeping even with population growth and cause that's gonna be another issue with population growth and more people moving into the area. There's gonna be more draw on how new developments making sure new developments. I that's another thing, make sure any new developments have high quality water appliances. And so make sure we don't have leakage in the pipes, very, so I think new development, making sure that they're more water conscious when new snow divisions are being built. For example, anything we can do to, because we do yeah. With the, with that population growth, we need to, if we're already over drawing and populations growing, we need to do something to conserve. Even in addition to the industry.

Pepper Roussel: There is a question that I see about water management policies, part of candidate forums or surveys, and essentially how are we reaching those folks who may not be able to get to where you are? And so Scott, if you can drop that answer in the chat, that will be wonderful. I wanna swing back to Miriam. Who's been quiet for a little bit and if you can give us just some last words around community engagement, how y'all have managed to mobilize community, how y'all have managed to respond and getting those folks who may not be as mobile as. Able to respond is able to maybe as nimble, that's what I'm looking for in getting to places and doing things. What are some key takeaways that you can share? How it is that y'all are making it work?

Miriam Belbidia: Yeah. So when I think about equitable community engagement you're often starting with thinking about what are all the barriers to getting folks actually come to the table. And the thing is with, attending community meetings on these subjects that while incredibly important if you are, daily trying to. Child care, getting dinner on the table, more immediate pressing needs. It's really hard to carve out the time for folks to come to these meetings on these specific topics. Something that we often think about is trying to meet people where they're at, like how, where are the folks already getting information from? I know I saw in the chat huge chat as the library systems and that's always a great way to, to reach people. And then also thinking through, sorry, I have an asthmatic topic background thinking through Yeah, where people are already going, how can you reach them? And they're, whether that's places of worship, whether that's community centers, how is there ways to get this information out where folks are already engaged using things like, especially through COVID time, I think we've gotten much more used to virtual meetings, having things be available online as well. And then thinking through when you're hosting any kind of meeting, are there ways to actually provide childcare options? Are there, is it being held in a place that's successful by public transportation? Is it going to be at a time of day that people could actually get to these are all, some of the considerations that we bring to the kinds of outreach engagement that we do.

Pepper Roussel: So I've got a question from Reverend Anderson for both presenters. Should water usage, policies and procedures be factored into decisions to grant tax exemptions by municipalities?

Dr. Scott A. Hemmerling: Sorry, I was writing that down because that's a great question. And I think with the kind of offering, as probably a lot of us know when industry comes in, they get, potentially a 10 year tax exemption. And then when they do a, some kind of build out on their facility, their 10 year tax exemptions extended another 10 years and things like that. I think putting water conservation, water usage, things like that in, I don't know if that's one of the alternatives that's been discussed, but I'll definitely bring that up. The next time we have our team meeting, because I think that's that's something I haven't heard discussed before, but I think it's a great alternative

Casey Phillips: The construction industry, both in the private and commercial real estate development side. I would love to understand where the current policy and regulation in the, with the city and on the state around remediation, mitigation efforts to be able to like you. Conservation in development. Would anybody like to speak on that?

Dr. Scott A. Hemmerling: There's two ways that we address these kind of water issues. One is the environmental, it's the messaging, the environmental messaging versus economic messaging. And I think things like conservation measures and I think those are gonna speak to very different people. And I think it's gonna be some combination of each, I think for a lot of folks. Particularly with inflation the way it is and everything, a lot of these conservation measures are gonna have to have an economic messaging. For better or worse, I think the environmental messaging is important also, but I think just how we message our conservation measures, I think is gonna be vitally important. I think for a lot of people struggling, I think that economic messaging is gonna be how we address, how we get the most public buy in and really that on the ground, meaningful change in communities is through economic . Thank you for that Scott Miriam space for you.

Miriam Belbidia: Yeah. I think that there's also looking at the long history of some of these things. Like sistern these are not new solutions. These are solutions that actually have a longstanding history of Houston in our communities. And while they might. to appeal to folks that are considering more environmental friendly solutions. Now I think that there's ways that we can make sure that we show that they're like rooted in our communities. As well as thinking through, when we are looking at questions of who is being asked to change their behavior also, who is contributing most to the problem. And that always for me comes back to looking at the balance of what is being asked as the individual level and whether, or not all those individual changes, which can be a part of the solution of the large industry players that are having some of the greatest impact.

Casey Phillips: Let's give a quick shout out to Mary Stein in the house today, everyone everyone loves Mary.

Mary Stein: How we can be a part of it to push it out there, to share it, to give the layers of research at whether it's for kids, teens, grownups, business professionals entrepreneurs, whatever the topic. There are things that can be shared. We did do a water like a conservation water thing that, that one came through the state department and it was lovely. It was visually pleasing. It had things for kids to do. It was, but that's all so the same way we do stuff with GIS day and it blows people's minds. I'm all about blowing people's minds. Whatever we can do to help we certainly want to, and then as a sidebar to the fabulous here, Wilson foundation, the three top, the three engaged topics that you're going to be addressing with recidivism and that health needs, and then keeping people from falling off after three months know that the library. With the city key, we added things for the social determinants of health. We added things especially through an equity lens for Baton Rouge's health snapshots, and that information is there for your grant seekers to use or your grant writers to use and to help inform decision making and thoughts for these great projects.

Pepper Roussel: Thank y'all so much for being with us today. I appreciate you spending part of your Friday morning talking about water as if Miriam has nothing on her plate to do. I don't know whether Mary y'all know that imagine waterworks had actually installed a little water library in the main library down here. And possibly that would be something pretty interesting as a collaborative effort to work on in Baton Rouge, not only to bring awareness to where the water comes from, but also how we in south Louisiana live with water.

Zoom Chat

08:27:07 From Amanda Stanley to Everyone:

Amanda Stanley - from phone

08:31:38 From One Rouge to Everyone:

GM, OneRouge!

08:31:59 From Danny Fields, CFRE to Everyone:

Good morning!

08:32:01 From Krystle D. Veals to Everyone:

Preach, Casey!

08:32:49 From Patrick Tuck to Everyone:

Friendly competition! :-)

08:34:49 From One Rouge to Everyone:

I'm only interested in the tailgating ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

08:34:53 From Tristi Charpentier (she/her) to Everyone:

08:35:06 From Alexis Jones - Habitat for Humanity to Everyone:

I agree with that sentiment^^

08:37:45 From Tristi Charpentier (she/her) to Everyone:

08:39:26 From Tristi Charpentier (she/her) to Everyone:

Tristi Charpentier, Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation, 225-292-1344,

08:40:51 From Danny Fields, CFRE to Everyone:

This is terrific, Tristi. Thanks Tristi, Jan, Ebony, and David for all that you do for the community. Is there a specific grant range that organizations should consider when applying?

08:41:09 From Edy Addison to Everyone:

I’d love to share Engage with CAUW partners and grantees. Fantastic opportunity.

08:41:21 From Tristi Charpentier (she/her) to Everyone:

We anticipate grants to be $50,000-$100,000 per year. Applicants may also request up to three years of funding.

08:43:10 From Tristi Charpentier (she/her) to Everyone:

Absolutely, Edy!

08:43:23 From Danny Fields, CFRE to Everyone:

Thank you. I know this is going to make a terrific impact. I hope you'll share this with the Association of Fundraising Professionals Baton Rouge Chapter as well. The next monthly meeting is next Tuesday.

08:44:18 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

What a timely topic!

08:45:51 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:

Big OneRouge welcomes to our friends Mary Stein, Adam Beary, and Tanzel Montgomery for joining us today!

08:50:21 From One Rouge to Everyone:

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink...

08:51:44 From Scott Hemmerling to Everyone:

08:55:29 From Patrick Tuck to Everyone:

Mind blown that salt water intrusion is this significant this far up river. I expect it where I live in St. Charles.

08:56:24 From Mary Stein to Everyone:

hundreds have been attending the Stormwater Master Plan meetings... and of course this topic goes beyond that. Happy to host anything at the library...

08:57:16 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Where and how was the survey distributed?

08:58:00 From Mary Stein to Everyone:

Straw metaphor really works

08:59:06 From Karla King - concerned citizen to Everyone:

Thanks Mary Stein - a Goodwood Library exhibit wa.s where my eyes were opened wide on our water situation.

08:59:24 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Do we have issues with industry also dumping into the ground water supply? If so how are they being held accountable?

08:59:26 From AdamBeary to Everyone:

Information is the link is very comprehensive. Thanks Scott!

09:01:08 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Look at my library system taking the lead in education, again!!! EBRP, best library system in the country!!!!

09:03:51 From Alexis Jones - Habitat for Humanity to Everyone:

^^ Yes, our library system really is great!!

09:06:02 From AdamBeary to Everyone:

Could that increase be based on usage numbers? Not sure how that would be measured.

09:06:14 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

In many communities the water usage has not been prioritized for either risk assessment or cost/benefit analysis to the community as a whole. Did the survey address this topic at all?

09:08:06 From Karla King - concerned citizen to Everyone:

Yes Pepper!

09:10:32 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

We talk about having community meetings but the most impacted communities often can't get to these meetings for a myriad of reasons. Has there been any thoughts to expanding access via Facebook, LPB, etc?

09:11:31 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Water infrastructure in Louisiana has been a crisis for decades.

09:13:23 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Almost any Mayor, especially in rural areas, will tell you the infrastructure problem is paramount but this isn't the sexy topic.

09:14:22 From One Rouge to Everyone:

I keep telling y’all: policy *is* sexy!

09:15:19 From SK Groll to Everyone:

Policy & Infrastructure: the (spicy) 2023 photo-calendar

09:16:22 From Verna Bradley-Jackson to Everyone:

Second Baptist Church is collecting water to take to Jackson, Mississippi. Feel free to drop a couple of cases off at 914 N. Acadian Thruway W. Baton Rouge, 70802. Drop off time is tomorrow between 10am and 11am and Sunday between 8am to 9am. Filling a 18 - Wheeler. Feel free to reach out 225.205.0057. Thanks

09:17:11 From Patrick Tuck to Everyone:

Yes to the imagery of a "photo-calendar" marketing and promotion approach to sharing with the public!!!! Easy to consume and understand now that the reports are out there.

09:17:47 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

There's a major election on November 8th. Who should we be asking about water management policies as part of candidate forums and/or surveys?

09:18:49 From Tristi Charpentier (she/her) to Everyone:

If you are in a position to help Jackson, Mississippi Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is directing all monetary donations to Mississippi Baptists Disaster Relief. They are taking lead with many supporting partners.

09:19:38 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Thanks for the update on assisting Jackson.

09:20:06 From One Rouge to Everyone:

...also policy decisions. Uses of gray water is dictated by city ordinance

09:22:14 From Morgan Udoh (She/Her/They) to Everyone:

^And HOA and tract covenants

09:25:25 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Question for both presenters: Should water usage policies and procedures be factored into decisions to grant tax exemptions by municipalities?

09:26:25 From SK Groll to Everyone:

shameless event plug for this weekend! Walls Project is building a garden on Billops Street in BR! This garden will mostly serve elderly folks in the neighborhood, and is going to be run by a lovely coupe who runs the neighborhood convenience store. If you are free Sunday morning (or know people who might be) please join us!

09:27:57 From Mary Stein to Everyone:

and the same way folks earn tax credits--industry earns a tax credit when they change over the infrastructure to use gray water...

09:28:20 From Scott Hemmerling to Everyone:

One of the things that we recommended to the commission is that we need a public awareness campaign which would include going to where people are at times that are convenient to them.

09:28:46 From Patrisha’s iPhone to Everyone:

Great discussion

09:29:09 From Patrisha’s iPhone to Everyone:

Real talk

09:29:09 From Ebony Starks-Wilson Foundation to Everyone:

I'll defer to the speakers

09:31:48 From Patrisha’s iPhone to Everyone:


09:31:56 From rodneyna to Everyone:


09:33:18 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Yes you are!!!

09:33:40 From Scott Hemmerling to Everyone:

If anyone has any questions on our work with the commission or is interested in meeting to discuss these conservation issues and the survey, feel free to reach out at

09:33:56 From Tristi Charpentier (she/her) to Everyone:

We're grateful for the work of our library system!

09:35:04 From Patrick Tuck to Everyone: 4-H/FFA/College of Ag: Bash on the Bayou Nest weekend: 9/17/2022

09:35:07 From Morgan Udoh (She/Her/They) to Everyone:

SU vs LSU!!!

09:35:10 From Patrick Tuck to Everyone:

Next weekend

09:35:40 From Tristi Charpentier (she/her) to Everyone:

Junior League's Hollydays is just over a month away! In addition to Shopping for a Cause, you can take a chance on a new Mercedes or a new Rolex.

09:35:42 From SK Groll to Everyone:

Reposting now that we are in community announcement time! shameless event plug for this weekend! Walls Project is building a garden on Billops Street in BR! This garden will mostly serve elderly folks in the neighborhood, and is going to be run by a lovely couple who runs the neighborhood convenience store. If you are free Sunday morning (or know people who might be) please join us!

09:35:44 From Miriam Belblidia to Everyone:

Thanks so much for having me! If you’d like to reach out,

09:36:17 From Morgan Udoh (She/Her/They) to Everyone:

Eden Park Neighborhood Garden bed setup


09:37:08 From Mary Stein to Everyone:

Scotlandville Branch LIbrary RENOVATION DESIGN OPEN HOUSE on Sept 20 at either 2-4 or 5:30-7:30 - we will be doing a major renovation and expansion beginning in 2023 and will reveal the design at this time.

09:37:12 From SK Groll to Everyone:

Got to run, but hope to see everyone at the garden! So grateful for this convo today

09:37:47 From Karla King - concerned citizen to Everyone:

Thanks again for educational Friday mornings!

09:38:22 From Amanda Stanley - LDWB 21 EBR to Everyone:

I agree, Karla - this has been an interesting and educational meeting

09:38:45 From Morgan Udoh (She/Her/They) to Everyone:

The neighborhood (local grocery store in particular) is excited about incorporating fresh produce from the garden beds into their hot plates and grand and go offerings.

09:40:33 From rodneyna to Everyone:

Program tonight at CPM with the Forever Dolls. Southern University's legacy of the dolls

09:42:21 From Morgan Udoh (She/Her/They) to Everyone:

Yes! Bless him for his work to combat trafficking

09:42:23 From Amanda Stanley - LDWB 21 EBR to Everyone:

Laramie Griffin is a great advocate and great resource for the community!

09:42:39 From Patrisha’s iPhone to Everyone:

That’s awesome!

09:42:52 From rodneyna to Everyone:

So proud of Laramie!

09:43:31 From Patrisha’s iPhone to Everyone:


09:44:17 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:

Here is Laramie's contact info: Laramie X <>

09:44:35 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Thank you Casey

09:45:26 From Tristi Charpentier (she/her) to Everyone:

Faux fall!

09:45:47 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Unfortunately the Homeless Ordinance goes into effect today.

09:46:02 From rodneyna to Everyone:

move zig

09:46:15 From Rev Anderson to Everyone:

Sorry actually tomorrow

09:46:20 From Patrick Tuck to Everyone:

Terrific session! Thanks so much!

Community Announcements

Charlotta Carter: I don't have, it's not this weekend and I'll give you guys more information. But we're having a healthy cooking class on Southern university campus for food desert food insecurity and just and also to really start to help folks with type two diabetes, as well as just eating healthy overall. So we're gonna have a, and we're inviting. The people that are already in the program and we're inviting more people from the community and asking them to bring their kids because we definitely want, healthy eating to start from young age, from a young age. And so we'll have a chef there. The theme of it is making a beautiful salad and so they'll be able to make a chicken salad. We're gonna give out giveaways for Les and really we will be showing them how to use Alina platform. Since we recently got a collaboration with Walmart to be able to allow folks to order healthy food online. So we'll send out some more information and we're really trying to help the Southern university our center of excellence recruit more people for their program. They've had a really good time of really teaching people about food, desert, food insecurity, food science, and we'd like to really get more people engaged in that since it's been a really good educational event for a number of folks. So it'll be September 23rd from six to eight and bring the kids I was super excited about that, but I'm not thinking down on the 23rd. Oh no. Yeah, and I really, I, we really want it to be fun, so we'll have some snacks what we, what my grandson calls sneaky snacks for the kids. And and we just wanna make it a family event because I think everybody needs to eat healthy. So thank you for that 30 seconds.

Rev. Anderson: I have a announcement I've been making, but I want to, again, invite everybody to on Tuesdays from 12 to 1255 at the river center library, my amazing partners in the library. We host a 19th JDC first appearance family support center. It's right in the lobby you come in and for family members and people that have somebody going through the criminal justice system in the 19th JDC when people get arrested, they have something called first appearance. And it is a amazing collaboration of partnerships with a whole host of organizations. But I invite everybody. If you get a chance every Tuesday, you need to stop by come visit and see us and find out the third partner in, in our government is also our court. And it is simply amazing how many people don't know how our courts work. So that's on Tuesdays from 12:00 PM to 12:55 PM. And you're most certainly welcome to then walk over to the 19th JDC with me and sit in on a first appearance. I think it is something every single citizen should do. They should know how their court systems work.

Pepper Roussel: There's an announcement from SK that is in the chat wall's project is building a garden on Phillip street. The garden is mostly to serve elderly in the neighborhood and it's gonna be run by a lovely couple who runs the neighborhood convenience store. So if you're free on Sunday morning, or know some people who might be free, please join us. And that link is in the chat.

Rodneyna Hart: so it's the legacy of the dancing dolls at Southern university. Ah so they are the forever dolls. They we're featuring them and programming tonight. And a band whose members are from the the human jukebox. So we are excited about the program. I think officially we've sold out of tickets, but if you come, you can come in because Baton Rouge is notorious for getting tickets and then not showing up. So come on to the event, if you're interested it's free and open to the public and we'll have a really often bar provided by a ride scandal, cuz they love us.

Rev. Anderson: Larry Griffin withal has stepped in as a community organization. Most of you have seen on the news that there have been some issues around some of the children being attacked by a predator. And so his organization has stepped up and they are looking for volunteers between the hours at 5:00 AM and 7:00 AM to come out, particularly males to come out and help them just walk with the children to school, to make sure that the children are covered. Adults who care about them in the community. And it's important because oftentimes the most important work at the grassroots level isn't being done by big famous groups. It's being done by these organizations that see a need and step up. And so I'm asking everybody, if people in Baton Rouge that they have an opportunity from 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM. I don't think anybody's too young and I don't think anybody's too old to simply walk to school and make sure the children are safe. That how awesome would that be to see, 500. Encouraging and engaging our children and making sure not just that they're safe, but if I'll be honest about it, that we are dropping some knowledge and wisdom to the children. And we're making sure that we are putting our bodies where we say our treasure is. So I just want, I didn't see 'em on the call, but I wanted to give a shout out to the work that evolve is doing. And especially because at this season, our children are quite frankly, terrified. School is not a safe place. And part of the reason it's not a safe place is because the adults who are supposed to be the first responders, which are us as parents and community leaders, often they're not seeing us in those spaces. So just wanted to give him a shout out and invite anybody. If you're interested in helping him that work is.

Verna Bradley: Hey. Hey everybody. Second Baptist church is doing a water drive to Jackson, Mississippi. So we're gonna do, you can drop our water at second Baptist on tomorrow between 10 and 11. We're trying to fill out 18 Wheeler to go to Jackson, Mississippi to help out. Thanks a million

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