For the second consecutive year, the Mississippi River is grappling with low water levels, primarily due to prolonged hot and dry weather conditions. This ongoing drought is causing deep concern in Louisiana communities, particularly regarding the availability of drinking water.
What’s exacerbating the situation is the encroachment of saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico into the river, jeopardizing water supplies in places like New Orleans. Ordinarily, the flow of the river is sufficient to prevent saltwater from advancing upstream. However, the persistent hot and dry weather has once again diminished the river’s flow, enabling a denser layer of saltwater to push its way upstream.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards expressed his concerns during a news conference, noting that relief from these dry conditions has been elusive, resulting in a worsening intrusion of saltwater that is progressively moving further up the river. He also pointed out that the river is expected to reach historic lows in the coming weeks.
This challenging situation has been exacerbated by prolonged drought and above-average heat in most parts of the state, leading to various issues like wildfires, heat-related incidents, and now, saltwater intrusion. Furthermore, the intrusion of saltwater poses not only a threat to drinking water supplies but also potential health risks for residents, including increased blood pressure and corrosion of drinking water infrastructure.