The Water Institute is an independent, non-profit, applied research institution advancing science and developing integrated methods to solve complex environmental and societal challenges. We believe in and strive for more resilient and equitable communities, sustainable environments, and thriving economies.



Coastal regions are confronting complex, diverse, and interconnected challenges, including the impacts of sea-level rise, land loss, subsidence, environmental degradation, and increases in storm frequency and intensity. Communities, businesses, ecosystems, and essential infrastructure in these regions are facing substantial and growing hazards and risks. The Water Institute works to provide the best available science and decision making support to enable stakeholders to analyze, manage, and reduce risks.

How We Work

The Water Institute Methodology

The Water Institute methodology employs applied science to assist communities to make informed decisions and plan for an uncertain future. Our goal is to fully inform and advise decisionmakers in evaluating alternatives grounded in science, research, and community priorities.
Explore the methodology wheel to learn more.


The decision point is outside of our domain—our goal is to fully inform decision makers but not advocate for any one alternative.

Discovery & Engagement

The Water Institute begins by meaningful and deliberate community engagement, identifying problems and objectives, and conducting background and policy research.

Metrics & Evaluation

The Water Institute designates physical, natural, and social metrics to measure success toward the community’s goals.

Tool Development

The Water Institute collects data and creates tools such as predictive numerical modeling and scripts for data analysis to advance knowledge of the problem at hand.

Alternatives Analysis

Leveraging its transdisciplinary approach, the Water Institute utilizes integrated modeling to identify alternative solutions to challenges.


To further support the decision process, the Institute prioritizes all identified solutions, outlining the tradeoffs and consequences of each.

Planning & Policy Development

The Water Institute supports the decision process by further prioritizing projects and conducting research to inform policy development following decisions.

Adaptive Management

The Water Institute supports decision makers as they assess and adapt their plans over time to reduce uncertainty.

Scientific Rigor

Scientific rigor and advancement, stakeholder engagement, and quality assurance/quality control are central to each step of the Water Institute's methodology.


The Water Institute communicates complex scientific topics to stakeholders through plans, tools, maps, and other visualizations of data.

Learn More about the Water Institute

Coastal Innovation and Collaboration Hub

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards named the Water Institute as the state’s Coastal Innovation and Collaboration Hub.

In this role, the Water Institute acts as a focal point to bring together scientists, government agencies, nonprofits, and communities to address the major challenges facing Louisiana’s coast.

Recent Project
Guidance for Coastal Ecosystem Restoration and Monitoring to Create or Improve Bird-Nesting Habitat

The Water Institute was tasked by the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group to develop a guidance that could help answer the question, “How can coastal ecosystem restoration projects more effectively benefit bird-nesting habitats?” Three specific n...

Learn More
Latest News
The Water Institute team mourns the passing of Justin Ehrenwerth, President and CEO

BATON ROUGE, La. (May 13, 2023) – The Water Institute team mourns the passing of Justin R. Ehrenwerth, who led The Water Institute as President and CEO for the past seven years. Justin’s passion for the work, his vision for The Water Institute, and his caring leadership...

Read Full Story
Recent Publication
Influence of Increased Freshwater Inflow on Nitrogen and Phosphorus Budgets in a Dynamic Subtropical Estuary, Barataria Basin, Louisiana

Coastal Louisiana is currently experiencing high rates of wetland loss and large-scale ecosystem restoration is being implemented. One of the largest and most novel restoration projects is a controlled sediment diversion, proposed to rebuild and sust...

Read Publication