NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — With saltwater making its up the Mississippi River, the saltwater wedge has remained still since Sept. 24 thanks to better-than-forecasted flow rates in the river and quick work on the underwater sill.
“We are ahead of schedule. We’re currently 62% complete, and we’re aiming to have it finished by the 12th of October,” District Engineer of the New Orleans District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Cullen Jones said.
This new timeline provides parishes with extra time to prepare and make adjustments to already developed plans.
Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng says she has already made some changes, including decreasing the number of lay-flat pipes for the last eight miles of the Westbank pipeline.
“For the second half, we probably would just do maybe two lay-flats to see if the whole system works, so that we would be ready,” Sheng said.
As for Orleans Parish, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans plans to transport river water on barges down to the Westbank intakes in Algiers.
The New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness will also assist in bringing water to Algiers residents.
“This affords us more time to ensure the solution that we choose is the most cost-effective and sustainable as possible, so we plan to rebid the Algiers water intake project today,” said SWBNO Interim General Superintendent Ron Spooner.
“Those who can’t pick up water due to physical limitations will be a priority to us. We will provide a way for you to let us know you are unable to get water,” NOHSEP Director Collin Arnold said.
While the saltwater is no longer projected to reach the Eastbank of New Orleans, officials say they still have a contractor ready and prepared to construct a pipeline within 30 days should the saltwater speed up again.
“We intend to stay the course until this situation is completely resolved, and that’s really the case. Again, I want to be clear that no plans are being canceled. In fact, it’s quite the opposite,” Spooner said.
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