BURAS, La. (WGNO) — The State of Louisiana is taking steps toward ensuring safer drinking water after saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico entered the Mississippi River. But some residents believe it may be a little too late.
Because of the unprecedented low water levels on the Mississippi River, the river can’t fight off saltwater coming in from the Gulf.
Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District Col. Cullen Jones says, “Based off the current forecast and projections, if no action is taken, you potentially could see the saltwater wedge all the way up to the French Quarter, but we have no intention not to take any action.”
The Army Corps of Engineers announced on Friday, Sept. 15 that they will be heightening the recently built underwater sill to protect local water supplies.
Byron Marinovich, who owned Black Velvet Oyster Bar and Grill in Buras, says that the saltwater has already infiltrated their drinking water.
“We’re having to buy about 150 pounds of ice a day because I can’t use my ice machine, and, of course, it’s affecting us in our personal life as well as everybody else around here. As far as washing clothes, the hot water heater’s having problems, plumbing problems and the whole thing,” says Marinovich.
Plaquemines Parish President Keith Hinkley says that with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers and GOHSEP, the parish will be getting a reverse osmosis system.
Hinkley also said he hasn’t wasted any time helping his constituents, stating, “To date, we have probably, between the state and Plaquemines Parish, we have probably distributed about a million and a half liters of water to our residents, and that’s for 2,000 residents. Hopefully, this will slow down and stop.”
Some, like Marinovich, are feeling forgotten, though, and would like to see some water tankers coming down the highway.
“The message, we need water. I mean, it’s just a very important thing, and somebody should have been on top of this a long time ago. I think they’ve been knowing about it and really just kind of pushed it to the side. It wasn’t important to them because we’re fairly low populated down here, probably,” says Marinovich.