NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The toe of the saltwater wedge has retreated more than five miles since last week, and city officials are hoping that pattern continues.
The current National Weather Service forecast predicts the saltwater will reach Algiers on Nov. 23 and may not reach New Orleans’ East Bank intakes at all.
Officials with the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans assured council members they’re watching it closely.
“We are taking measures to be sure that if that changes, we’ve got plans in place, and we are ready to move,” said SWBNO Deputy General Superintendent Steve Nelson.
“We have a bid package out for the West Bank right now.”
Plans for Algiers include the Army Corps of Engineers barging in 14 million gallons of fresh water daily.
“The way that we’re going to make that happen is to place what’s called a cofferdam. It’s an enclosure around the intake. We’ll have what’s called a ‘spud barge,’ which is a barge that will sit in the river that will have pumps that can move the water from the Army Corps’ barges into the cofferdam, mix it if we need to, and then run that into our intakes,” said Nelson.
Sewerage and Water Board officials said, pending Thursday’s National Weather Service report from the Army Corps, they will move forward with their 12-mile pipeline plan for New Orleans’ East Bank.
However, some council members wondered if the Sewerage and Water Board is lagging behind.
“We’re getting questions about Jefferson Parish’s progress on their pipeline,” said New Orleans City Councilwoman Lesli Harris. “Why haven’t we progressed? You’ve addressed it, but can you just address it head on?”
“It’s a much further distance for them to have to lay that pipeline down,” Nelson explained. “On our East Bank, again, we’ve been told by contractors that it can be completed within 30 days, and also given the dollars and cents we’re talking about, we need to be sure that we’re taking that into consideration.”
Sewerage and Water Board officials also said the pipeline would only be a temporary fix and that a regional desalination plant may be the long-term solution.
“We are working with our state partners and also working with the federal partners to start the discussion of what potential long-tern solutions there are in this region to address this issue,” said SWBNO General Superintendent Ron Spooner.
To view the SWBNO’s dashboard to track the saltwater wedge and to find resources, like tips on how to conserve water, visit their website.
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