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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Salty Surprise: Mississippi River Saltwater Intrusion Threatens New Orleans Drinking Water

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Saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico is threatening the drinking water supply in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. The Mississippi River is at record low levels for the second consecutive year, making it less resistant to the saltwater wedge pushing north from the Gulf.

Saltwater intrusion can occur when the water level in a river drops below a certain point, allowing saltwater to flow upstream. This can happen due to drought, sea level rise, or both. Saltwater intrusion can contaminate drinking water supplies, making them unsafe to drink.

In New Orleans, the saltwater wedge is expected to reach water treatment plants in October. The city is taking steps to mitigate the threat, such as barging in freshwater from other sources and adjusting the intake levels at its water treatment plants. However, if the saltwater wedge reaches the city’s water supply, it could force residents to boil their water or drink bottled water.

Saltwater intrusion is a growing problem in many parts of the world due to climate change. Sea levels are rising, and droughts are becoming more frequent and severe. This is putting coastal communities at risk of losing their drinking water supplies.

The following are some of the things that can be done to address saltwater intrusion:

* Reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change and sea level rise.
* Improve water management practices to conserve water and reduce demand.
* Build and maintain infrastructure to protect against saltwater intrusion, such as seawalls and levees.
* Develop desalination plants to convert saltwater into freshwater.

Saltwater intrusion is a serious threat to drinking water supplies in many parts of the world. It is important to take action to address this threat and protect our water resources.

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