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Salt water intrusion into Mississippi River could quickly cause issues, USACE stepping in

7 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Thursday, July 06 2023 Jul 6, 2023 July 06, 2023 4:55 PM July 06, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The Mississippi River may look normal to the naked eye, but experts say it is lower than usual this time of year. However, it is still powerfully flowing.

"200,000 cubic feet per second is low [for the Mississippi River], but that's essentially 800,000 basketballs of water to come past a point every second," Heath Jones, an emergency manager for the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, said.  

However, it's not powerful enough to keep salt water from flowing up the river. Heavy levels of salt are quickly becoming a problem for people and businesses along the waterways.

"Their equipment is not designed to take salt water and make fresh drinking water out of it," Jones said. "Some refineries also have the same issue, as they depend on fresh water to do their refining process."

About every ten years, the USACE face the same challenge. The organization went through the same process last year, but since the sill they built is made out of dredged material, it quickly washed away.

"Yeah, so we're here, nine months later, building the sill again," Jones said.

A more permanent solution is not impossible, but it would be a massive undertaking, especially when the river is at its most powerful.

"We go from around 200,000 cubic feet per second now, to when we have Bonnet Carrie way open, [which is] a million times higher than that. So [to handle a force] six times higher than what we have now, that would be quite an engineer feat to build something permanent across the Mississippi River," Jones said.

If something is not done soon, salt water could flow as far north as Natchez, Mississippi.

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