JEFFERSON PARISH, LOUISIANA
September 22, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JEFFERSON PARISH MONITORS SALTWATER
INTRUSION AND ASSISTS PLAQUEMINES PARISH
There is no impact to the drinking water supply in Jefferson Parish
JEFFERSON, LA – Due to the ongoing drought, saltwater entering the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico has impacted drinking water in Plaquemines Parish. At this point, there is no impact to the drinking water supply in Jefferson Parish.
“It’s important for residents in Jefferson Parish to understand that our water is currently safe to drink,” said Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng. “We continue to help our neighbors in Plaquemines Parish as they are being impacted by this. Our Jefferson Parish Water Department is now providing 100,000 gallons of water to parts of Plaquemines Parish with the ability to provide 7 million gallons with 2 waterline connections on the West Bank per day.”
Jefferson Parish has its own Water Laboratory that daily monitors the level of chloride in raw water as it is pulled from the river and treated water as it is distributed to the residents. The chloride level is a parameter used to measure the salinity of the water (salt in the water). Currently, the chloride levels in Jefferson Parish are at 40.90 mpl (milligrams per liter) on the East Bank and 47.11 mpl on the West Bank, which are normal water levels that are safe to drink. The Louisiana Department of Health, in conjunction with the Jefferson Parish Water Department, will issue a public advisory if chloride levels rise above the drinking water standard of 250 mpl.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), there are a lot of uncertainties at this time; however, until we see more rain in northern areas of the country coming down the Mississippi, the saltwater intrusion could continue to expand to other parts of the region, including Jefferson Parish. Plaquemines Parish began seeing impacts from this situation in June. As a mitigation measure against this, USACE constructed an underwater sill (essentially a levee at the bottom of the river) at river Mile Marker 65 in Plaquemines Parish, south of Belle Chasse to slow the advance of the salt wedge.
USACE issued a Forecast Saltwater Progression Timeline today to project when the surface water quality may exceed the Environmental Protection Agency standard of 250 mpl in each parish. Estimated impacts include St. Bernard Parish by October 19, 2023, Algiers by October 22, 2023, Gretna by October 24, 2023, the West Bank of Jefferson Parish by October 25, 2023, the East Bank of Orleans Parish by October 28, 2023, and the East Bank of Jefferson Parish by October 29, 2023. A saltwater wedge tracker is available on the USACE website.
Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng signed an Emergency Declaration this week in order to immediately prepare for the potential impacts to address this emergency. The Jefferson Parish Emergency Management team and Jefferson Parish Water Department are working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, GOHSEP and regional partners to monitor this situation and will continue to provide updates to the public as more information is available.
Residents are encouraged to stay informed by visiting emergency.la.gov/saltwater. The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has issued a FAQ document with health guidance, which is also available at the link. For more information about Jefferson Parish, visit www.JeffParish.net. Residents can also receive regular updates by following the Parish on social media (@JeffParishGov) or by texting JPALERT or JPNOTICIAS to 888-777.
Jefferson Parish Public Information Office
1221 Elmwood Park Boulevard, Suite 1002
Jefferson, LA 70123
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Gretchen Hirt Gendron, PIO