PLAQUEMINES PARISH, La. (WGNO) — Plaquemines Parish Councilman Mitch Jurisich Jr. says there have been at least 25 separate breaches along the Mississippi River levee, allowing fresh water to leak out.

He said of the 25 breaches, three are causing the most damage: Neptune Pass, Fort St. Phillip and Mardi Gras Pass.

According to Jurisich, just those three breaches could be draining up to 35% of fresh water flowing down the river, allowing saltwater to push upriver quicker and farther.

“The water coming in from Breton Sound is just adding insult to injury. If this water had to come from the Gulf of Mexico and work its way up and had all of these crevasses closed up, that would be a stronger push up north. The water would push it back against the saltwater, but here, all the pressure is being relieved,” Jurisich said.

He also says that closing these breaches will relieve much of the salt wedge moving up north without having to rely on millions of dollars spent on emergency responses.

“Stop the flow of this water. If you stop the flow of this water, if this water would not be flowing out of there, we would be in much better shape in the upper you know Belle Chase area, St. Bernard,” Jurisich said.

If this problem isn’t solved soon, he says saltwater wedges making their way up the Mississippi River may become more common.

“The corps of engineers needs to get out here, channel this river back like it used to be. Get it back to its normal flow because if not, this is going to be an annual occurrence. Next time we do get a river, these fractures I’m talking about are not going to be fractures anymore. They’re going to be full blown passes,” Jurisich said.

WGNO reached out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for comment and has not heard back.

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