Water gets churned up at the end of a dredging pipeline connected to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredge on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tenn., on Monday. The river has seen water levels from Illinois to Louisiana plummet because of drought conditions in the past three months. When there's less flow coming downstream, saltwater from the Gulf wedges its way in.
A tow pushes a barge past a sandbar on the Mississippi River near the confluence with the Missouri River north of St. Louis., on Friday. Many sandbars normally under water on the two rivers are now exposed as the drought has caused river levels to drop.
The Mississippi River has been closed temporarily as contractors placed a pipeline in the Mississippi River to build an underwater barrier that the Army Corps of Engineers says will stop the advance of salt water threatening drinking water in the New Orleans area.
Due to low water levels in the Mississippi River, salt water has been moving far upriver and was at the outskirts of New Orleans by Wednesday, reaching 89 miles north of the mouth of the Mississippi.
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 Army Corps of Engineers says it will construct an underwater sill in the Mississippi River to stop salt water from threatening drinking water supplies in the New Orleans area.
The move is needed because water levels in the drought-stricken Mississippi have gotten so low that the river is nearly at sea level and this is allowing salt water from the Gulf of Mexico to move far inland.
At the latest check on Monday, salt water was on the outskirts of New Orleans.
The Army Corps of Engineers plans a public meeting Tuesday on measures it is taking to mitigate the impact of wildlife habitat as construction continues on a levee and flood protection system in Plaquemines, Jefferson and St. Charles parishes.
The presentation and discussion are set for 6:30 p.m. at the Ernest Tassin Senior Center on Fourth Street in Westwego.
With the Mississippi River running at low levels, salt water is moving up from the Gulf of Mexico.
The Times-Picayune reports that denser, heavier saltwater flows upriver beneath fresh water flowing downstream when the river's flow drops below normal. The Army Corps of Engineers says salt water is not yet considered a threat to water supplies in the New Orleans area.