Federal Disaster Aid Allocated for Louisiana as Saltwater Intrusion Menaces State’s Freshwater Supply

by Andrew Wright
Saltwater Intrusion

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden declared the provision of federal disaster assistance for the state of Louisiana. The state is grappling with a significant influx of salt water ascending the Mississippi River, thereby jeopardizing potable water resources in its southern regions.

The presidential directive sanctions the Department of Homeland Security, alongside the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to orchestrate all relief activities, as stated in a White House press release. This executive action will also facilitate the allocation of additional tools, personnel, and federal funding to counteract the issue of saltwater intrusion into the freshwater supply.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards expressed gratitude toward the Biden administration in a separate press release on Wednesday, stating, “I appreciate the expeditious response from the Biden administration to prioritize and address the urgent needs of the people in South Louisiana.”

This marks the second consecutive year in which salt water from the Gulf of Mexico has penetrated increasingly further up the Mississippi River, endangering freshwater sources for communities dependent on the river. Normally, the robust flow of the Mississippi prevents excessive salt water from traveling too far inland. However, a nationwide trend of hot, arid conditions this summer led to a drought, reducing the river’s flow rate and water levels.

In specific regions of Plaquemines Parish, situated in the southeastern extremity of Louisiana where the Mississippi River concludes its journey into the Gulf of Mexico, inhabitants have been reliant on bottled water for culinary and drinking purposes since June. Health advisories cautioning against drinking the water have been circulated in some communities within the parish. These advisories are especially relevant for individuals with kidney conditions, hypertension, those adhering to low-sodium diets, as well as infants and expectant mothers.

The saline intrusion is progressing further upstream and is projected to affect Orleans, St. Bernard, and Jefferson parishes by mid-to-late October, according to authorities.

Earlier this week, Governor Edwards penned a letter to President Biden, urgently soliciting federal intervention. In his correspondence, the governor highlighted the grave nature of the situation, asserting that it exceeds the capabilities of both state and local governance. He emphasized that federal aid is indispensable “to preserve life, secure property, and maintain public health and safety, or to mitigate or preclude the risk of a catastrophe.”

While the authorities are hoping for rainfall to restore the river’s diminished flow, they are concurrently adopting proactive measures. This includes elevating the stature of underwater levees designed to retard or block the inflow of salt water, as well as the transportation of 15 million gallons of freshwater to treatment installations in the affected areas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Saltwater Intrusion

What is the main issue addressed in this text?

The primary concern in this text is the escalating problem of saltwater intrusion in Louisiana, particularly along the Mississippi River, which is jeopardizing the state’s freshwater supply.

What actions has President Biden taken in response to this issue?

President Biden has taken decisive action by authorizing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts. This includes deploying additional resources, equipment, and federal funding to tackle the saltwater intrusion problem.

How has saltwater intrusion impacted communities in Louisiana?

Saltwater intrusion has affected communities, especially in Plaquemines Parish, where residents have had to rely on bottled water since June due to the contamination of their freshwater supply. Drinking water advisories have been issued, warning specific groups, such as those with kidney disease or high blood pressure, infants, and pregnant women, that the water is unsafe to drink.

What are the potential future implications of this issue?

The saltwater intrusion is projected to continue advancing further upstream along the Mississippi River, potentially affecting Orleans, St. Bernard, and Jefferson parishes by mid-to-late October. This could lead to more communities facing drinking water challenges and health risks.

Why did Governor Edwards seek federal assistance, and what was his rationale?

Governor Edwards sought federal help because he believed that the severity and magnitude of the saltwater intrusion problem exceeded the capabilities of state and local authorities to manage effectively. Federal assistance was deemed necessary to safeguard lives, protect property, ensure public health and safety, and mitigate the threat of a disaster.

What measures are being taken to address the saltwater intrusion issue besides federal assistance?

In addition to federal assistance, authorities are implementing proactive measures. These include raising the height of underwater levees to impede saltwater intrusion and the transportation of 15 million gallons of freshwater to treatment facilities in impacted areas.

What are the key factors that led to the saltwater intrusion problem in Louisiana?

The saltwater intrusion problem has been exacerbated by hot and dry conditions across the United States during the summer, which triggered a drought. This drought reduced the flow rate and water levels of the Mississippi River, allowing saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to move further upstream.

More about Saltwater Intrusion

You may also like


SeriousJournalist99 September 28, 2023 - 3:59 pm

President Biden finally acted on the saltwater issue. FEMA & DHS now involved. Big problem, needs big help!

MississippiWatcher September 28, 2023 - 7:48 pm

Drought’s the culprit here. Reduced river flow ain’t stoppin’ saltwater. Orleans, be ready for trouble.

WaterCrisisExpert September 29, 2023 - 12:51 am

Louisiana’s freshwater probs ain’t new. Saltwater creepin’ up the river – real danger to folks!


Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News