New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has declared a state of emergency due to the intrusion of saltwater into the Mississippi River, which could affect the region’s water supply. The low water levels in the river, caused by dry weather conditions, are allowing saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to flow upstream in Louisiana. Plaquemines Parish has already been experiencing the effects of this issue since June, and the situation is expected to worsen in the coming weeks. The intrusion is impacting the drinking water supply to residents and businesses in southeastern Louisiana.
To address the problem, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed an underwater barrier sill in July to delay the ingress of saltwater, but it was recently overtopped by the rising saltwater levels. Additional measures will be taken to further delay the intrusion, including increasing the size of the existing sill. However, the forecasted drop in the river’s water level and minimal rainfall suggest that the circumstances are unlikely to improve soon. Local, state, and federal officials are working together to protect water systems and intake points. It is important for the public to stay informed and rely on credible sources for updates during this event, as panic and misinformation are not helpful in dealing with the situation.