New Orleans Declares Emergency as Potential Water Crisis Looms

( – The Army Corps of Engineers has waged an ongoing war against Mother Nature for several decades. Its most notable battleground remains the mighty Mississippi River. However, the corps is losing a new battle on the river due to a combination of factors, including drought and record temperatures across the region. Now, New Orleans has declared an emergency as a potential water crisis looms.

On September 22, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) signed an emergency declaration in the face of declining freshwater flows in the Mississippi River. The lack of it allows saltwater incursions to travel upstream, compromising water quality at intake points for drinking water processing plants. The incursion has already compromised drinking water quality for residents of Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans, affecting people in Empire and Venice in Southern Louisiana.

However, as the drought deepens, the river flow continues to drop, and the saltwater incursion continues to move upstream. In July, the Corps of Engineers built an underwater sill, a type of dam to hold back the denser saltwater from traveling upstream. Now, engineers propose increasing the sill’s height by 25 feet along its 1500-foot width across the river. The measure might buy upstream communities another 10 to 15 days before the saltwater overtops the underwater dam.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to President Joe Biden on September 25 asking him for an emergency declaration for the state. He included the current projections estimating saltwater inundation of water plant intake points for Belle Chasse as early as October 13 and for Algiers and Gretna, the cities immediately south of New Orleans, by October 22 and 24, respectively.

Cantrell posted on X, formerly Twitter, letting constituents know she had filed the emergency declaration and that the city planned to continue working with local, state, and federal partners to monitor the situation. Bel Edwards reassured people that the state and the Corps of Engineers were working to provide adequate fresh water supplies for affected communities, including barging as much as 36 million gallons per day to the lower Mississippi.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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