NEW ORLEANS — This fall, Dillard University will launch its Urban Water Management Certificate Program designed to train students for water management jobs in government agencies and private industry. Students will learn to handle issues such as: flooding from hurricanes, stormwater management, sinking land caused by subsidence, as well as more mundane issues such as providing clean, safe water to residents. This is the first and only program of its kind in the state.

Urban Water Management involves the governance, planning, design and implementation of water supplies within urban environments. Challenges involving the urban water cycle pose some of the most serious threats and greatest opportunities for planning the future resilience of cities. This certificate program provides an integrative approach to water management in the urban environment, focused on skills development that are essential for better preparing workers in this field.

“In addition to providing the skills to protect cities from floods, water-induced infrastructure decay such as sinkholes, and water-borne illness, Water Management is also an ever-expanding industry in terms of job growth in both the public and private sectors,” said Robert A. Collins, Ph.D., Professor of Urban Studies and Public Policy, Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Professor. “This program will help to put New Orleans on the cutting-edge of the Urban Water Management Industry nationwide.”

Water management is among the top six growth industries over the next 10 year with 14,000 job openings filling an industry that already employs 34,350 people. The Greater New Orleans region will always have a need for better water management, whether this entails flood mitigation practices or developing new urban water systems that contribute to urban resilience. The University seeks to provide a more integrative approach where the holistic management of water in the urban environment becomes the norm. To move this region towards more successful implementation of urban water projects, industry professionals need to understand the bigger picture.

The crux of the program is to focus on water issues at the municipal level. “Currently, industry professionals tend to work in their own silos and there is a need for people who can connect the different areas in order to solve water issues and implement urban water projects,” said Casey Schreiber, Ph.D., Urban Studies & Public Policy Program Coordinator.  “I predict Urban Water Manager will soon be a job title.”

Efforts to establish the program started two years ago, after brainstorming efforts between Dillard and Greater New Orleans, Inc., (GNO, Inc.) to find areas where the University, as an education partner, could offer something unique in terms of our expertise that would align with the workforce development needs that GNO, Inc., recognized for the greater New Orleans region. Pairing our Urban Studies Program with the water management job projections in the area leads us to Urban Water Management.

Successful completion of four courses (12 credit hours) and all program activities, under the direction of Urban Studies & Public Policy Program advisors, are required to earn the certificate in Urban Water Management. This is not a degree-seeking program, but the classes count as general electives credits for any Dillard student regardless of their major. Also, there are plans to package the certificate program as a continuing studies program, for those who work in urban planning, government, architecture, structural engineering, hydrology, construction management, policy, among other fields.

East coast universities such as Columbia and New York universities offer other certificate programs of this kind. Collins said that one of the reasons New Orleans needed a certificate program is each university tends to teach about the geology of their own geographic region, with its own set different set of adversities. “Right now, there are no training programs focused the unique challenges of the Gulf Coast region,” Collins said.  “So we know there is both a need and a market for this program.”

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