Jefferson Parish takes proactive measures against saltwater intrusion

Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 11:04 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON PARISH (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish officials have taken action to counter the looming threat of saltwater intrusion as a salt wedge progresses toward the area.

The parish has announced plans to install pipelines running upriver to prevent potential water contamination.

After receiving the green light from the Army Corps of Engineers, Jefferson Parish is gearing up for mitigation efforts to ward off the saltwater menace.


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Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng highlighted the plan to deploy multiple pipelines.

“We’ve come up with what we think is the most practical plan. The goal is to put a flexible piping system with diesel pumps,” said Lee Sheng. “We’ve been studying this situation for well over a week, they’ve been working long hours. What we’re saying: our system and what works for us on those two projects is what we’re calling a flexible water line system.”

The pipelines will originate on the Westbank at the Marrero intake and on the Eastbank at the Old Jefferson intake, extending upriver just north of Kenner, where a natural sill is located.

Contractors are set to lay a total of 15 miles of pipes: four 12-inch diameter pipes for the Westbank project and five for the Eastbank.

Additionally, four high-velocity diesel pumps will be stationed at intervals of five miles along the river. Site scouting for the pump placements is underway, and the equipment for pipeline implementation is expected to arrive in the upcoming week.

Gretna operates a distinct water system from the parish, with an intake of approximately 4 million gallons daily.

Addressing the same saltwater threat, Mayor Belinda Constant highlighted their alternative approach, which involves a combination of barging and reverse osmosis units.

“There may be challenges. There may be some times where we maybe are uncomfortable, and maybe water, we would have to reduce what we’re using and use it for emergency purposes only. But we absolutely have the best interests, along with Jefferson Parish, for our people and we stand ready,” said Mayor Constant.

While Jefferson Parish moves ahead with its plans, the Sewerage and Water Board’s proposal for Orleans Parish is still pending approval.

Nevertheless, plans are afoot to construct a pipeline stretching from the intake at Carrollton Water Plant upriver.

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