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.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency for Plaquemines Parish as it deals with encroaching salt water that's threatening drinking water in the New Orleans area.
Wednesday's declaration clears the way for state agencies to offer help to the parish as it deals with its water supply issues. The Mississippi River was closed temporarily to shipping traffic as contractors began building an underwater barrier that the Army Corps of Engineers says will stop the advance of salt water.
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.
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.