Gov. Edwards held meeting regarding saltwater intrusion into Mississippi River
BATON ROUGE - Gov. John Bel Edwards held a meeting in New Orleans for an update on saltwater intrusion persisting in the Lower Mississippi River region, which has been a threat for the quality of drinking water in the region since the summer.
According to the National Weather Service Mississippi River forecast, these problems occurred because of the river volume falling to historic lows, and drought conditions have only gotten worse since June, where the problem first emerged for Plaquemines Parish.
Saltwater intrusion can affect the quality of drinking water for parishes that have water intakes alongside the Mississippi River where intrusion occurs, but no parishes upriver from Plaquemines Parish are likely to see any change in their drinking water until mid-to-late October. Water systems that will eventually be affected include St. Bernard, Orleans and Jefferson parishes.
USACE constructed an underwater barrier sill in July 2023 to create an artificial basin to help delay the access of saltwater into the river. Earlier this week, the upriver intrusion of saltwater from the Gulf overtopped the sill’s existing elevation. Soon, additional work will begin to further delay an increase of the intrusion.
Gov. Edwards issued the following statement about the saltwater intrusion:
“Unfortunately, without any relief from the dry weather we are starting to see the saltwater intrusion creep further up the river despite efforts to mitigate the problems by the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Gov. Edwards. “Our team at GOHSEP is working with all of our local, state and federal partners to determine what additional support will be needed and what steps can be taken to protect water systems and water intake points. Most importantly, this is not a time to panic or listen to misinformation. We have been through this situation before in 1988, and we are monitoring this situation very closely and applying the lessons learned. It is extremely important for the public to stay informed and only rely on credible sources for updates during this event.”
GOHSEP has established the website Emergency.la.gov where accurate information about the saltwater intrusion can be found.