Louisiana governor plans to request federal emergency declaration over saltwater intrusion threatening water

Louisiana Braces for Unprecedented Heat Wave

Louisiana is on the brink of facing an unprecedented heat wave, with temperatures set to soar to as high as 115 degrees on Friday. Alongside this scorching heat, there’s a growing concern about rising water temperatures that could pose hurricane risks.

Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a stark warning about the impending crisis. He stated that the state is just days away from requesting a federal emergency declaration. This declaration aims to tackle the saltwater intrusion problem in the Mississippi River, which is now jeopardizing the region’s drinking water.

“In the next couple of days, we will request an emergency declaration from the federal government. This will help us engage more federal agencies and provide us with the authorization for emergency protective measures, with potential reimbursement from the federal government if the declaration is granted,” Edwards announced.

His office confirmed that they are actively working on the request and hope to submit it soon. Earlier this month, Governor Edwards had already declared a state of emergency, and the state has received some assistance from federal partners in response.

Saltwater Threatens Drinking Water

The primary concern revolves around saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico into the drought-stricken Mississippi River. This intrusion poses a significant threat to the drinking water supply in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

“Unfortunately, relief from the dry conditions hasn’t come, and the intrusion is getting worse as it moves further up the river,” Governor Edwards lamented. He also shared forecasts that predict historic lows for the Mississippi River in the coming weeks.

In Plaquemines Parish, located in the southeastern part of the state, residents are already under a drinking water advisory due to elevated salt levels in their water. Bottled water is being distributed to help residents cope with the situation.

Addressing Multiple Challenges

Governor Edwards emphasized that Louisiana has been grappling with a series of challenges, including prolonged drought, extreme heat, wildfires, and heat-related incidents. Saltwater intrusion is the latest addition to this list.

Taking a proactive stance, the state is taking measures such as heightening underwater levees to impede the saltwater intrusion and delivering 15 million gallons of fresh water to affected areas.

Despite the challenges, Governor Edwards urged residents not to panic. He assured them that the state would maintain transparency throughout the crisis and would promptly notify residents if their water supply was affected.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply