New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has declared a state of emergency due to the intrusion of saltwater into the Mississippi River, which could potentially impact the region’s water supply. The low water levels in the river, caused by dry weather, are allowing saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to enter upstream in Louisiana. The intrusion of saltwater has already affected the Boothville Water Treatment Plant water intake in Plaquemines Parish, impacting the drinking water supply to residents and businesses in southeast Louisiana.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards expressed concern about the worsening drought conditions and the potential impact on other communities along the Mississippi River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had previously constructed an underwater barrier sill to delay the ingress of saltwater, but it has been overtopped by the rising saltwater levels. Additional measures, such as enlarging the sill, are being planned to further delay the intrusion.
Officials are closely monitoring the situation and working to protect water systems and intake points. The forecast predicts a continued drop in the river’s water level, with minimal rainfall expected to alleviate the circumstances. Governor Edwards emphasized the importance of staying informed and relying on credible sources for updates, urging the public not to panic or listen to misinformation. This is not the first time the region has faced such a situation, with a similar event occurring in 1988.