NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, alongside the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Army Corps of Engineers, appeared before the New Orleans City Council Wednesday to discuss plans to mitigate the saltwater intrusion.
Officials say they have several ideas, but building a pipeline appears to be the front runner.
“The state and governor are aligned with us on this project that the Sewerage and Water Board has begun the engineering on, which is to create about 10 to 12 miles of piping that is going to go upriver,” said Collin Arnold, the director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. “It’s going to draw from north of Kenner. It will address both the City of New Orleans East Bank Carrollton water plant and Jefferson Parish East Bank water plant.”
The project could cost up to $200 million, but the city will likely get federal help.
“It’s mobilizing multiple work crews to work, I assume, probably 24 hours a day to finish this, and everything is within that timeline of the end of October,” Arnold said. “I mean, there is an expense to it, but I think the expense is greater [to not do it].”
Officials say the pipeline could be crucial upriver because of the size of the East Bank water plants.
On the West Bank, project heads are relying on water barging and reverse osmosis.
“We are rapidly executing the finalization of our water barging,” said Army Corps of Engineers Col. Cullen Jones with the New Orleans District. “We’re anticipating delivering water to Port Sulphur as early as this weekend, and then we’ll continue to build capacity out, so I believe we’re well ahead and prepared for the potential impacts.”
Arnold also says there’s a much-needed sense to act because no one quite understands the long-term effects of saltwater corrosion.
Daily chloride testing is underway, and a corrosion sampling and notification plan is being developed.
However, officials did want to make one thing clear.
“Everything is safe right now,” Arnold said. “There’s no reason to panic. You’ve got people that are working on this 24 hours a day, trying to get the project going, the funding going, and the engineering behind it as well, and we’re not going to rest until this happens.”
How can customers prepare?
- Remain calm.
- Store extra drinking water from tap in reusable containers, if desired.
- When needed, practice conservation.
- Sign up for NOLA Ready emergency alerts by texting ‘NOLAREADY’ to 77295.
- Visit emergency.la.gov
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