NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a news conference on Thursday, Oct. 5, to give an update on the timeline of the saltwater intrusion coming up the Mississippi River.

Drought conditions caused the water level in the river to drop, which allowed saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to creep in over the summer.

The Corps of Engineers has a new timeline for neighboring parishes to be affected by the saltwater.

Colonel Cullen Jones stated that they are ahead of schedule in regard to the underwater sill being built in Plaquemines Parish.

“We are currently 62% complete. We plan to have them done by the 12th of October. Our daily river surveys show that the saltwater has less salinity and density than that behind the wedge,” said Jones.

The wedge is still projected to reach Belle Chasse by Oct. 13. All locations after that are getting some additional time to prepare. The saltwater is now expected to get to Dalcour on the 17th, and potential impacts to areas upriver are now pushed back even further.

“We will still see impacts to both Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes in the month of October, but we also see delayed impacts for the Algiers and Gretna facilities and late November.”

As far as a long-term solution, the parishes are coming together with federal agencies in hopes of being better prepared the next time around.

“Pipeline and intake system is one desalination plan, and really, we are open to listening to any input or ideas about how to mitigate and prevent this from occurring in the future,” said New Orleans’ Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Collin Arnold.

“Things they wish they had in place this time that we could potentially get in place for next time,” said Assistant Deputy Director at the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Casey Tingle.

The corps plans to provide weekly updates based on the National Weather Service 28-day forecast every Thursday for the public’s planning and response efforts.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness provided the updates.

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