Mississippi River Saltwater Intrusion
6:00 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Drought Lowers Mississippi River, Increases Threat to Drinking Water

Louisiana has so far avoided disastrous drought conditions declared in nearly half the counties in the United States. But southeast Louisiana is starting to feel the effects of a lower Mississippi River.

The river is so low that salt water is creeping up the waterway. Plaquemines Parish officials have declared a state of emergency. Parish President Billy Nungesser says the move is precautionary, in case drinking water supplies become scarce.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is moving to protect drinking water supplies for the New Orleans region. It’s planning to build an underwater barrier to block the dense salt water from flowing underneath fresh river water. The corps says that’s worked in 1988 and in 1999. Bids are being issued this week.