West Bank businesses are bracing for saltwater wedge impact

Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 10:41 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Gretna businesses are preparing for any potential impacts from the saltwater wedge. Some places and people tell Fox 8 they feel uneasy about the crisis creeping up the Mississippi.

A salted caramel latte is one thing, but some might say straight-up salt coffee is not so appetizing.

“We are Amore Bakery and Cafe. We serve coffee, pastries, breakfast, lunch and we also serve Angelo Brocato’s gelato,” said Lauren Baldassaro. “We’re very concerned but at the moment it’s just something that’s not within our control.”

Gretna is the only one of six Jefferson Parish municipalities that supplies its water to its 174,000 customers, averaging 3.6 to 4 million gallons a day. Mayor Belinda Constant says the city is working hand-in-hand with Jefferson Parish to mitigate the saltwater wedge impact.

Meanwhile, Amore is doing what they can to keep customers coming in.

“We do have a plan to have a few water reservoirs connected to all of our espresso, coffee and tea machines so that we will still be able to serve those items to customers,” Baldassaro said.

The big ‘what if’ is whether water pressure is impacted. If Amore doesn’t have enough water, it might not be able to operate.

“It is so important that we are able to wash our hands and that our customers are able to use the restrooms if they need to, so we would just not even be able to open,” said Baldassaro. “That’s the last thing we want to have to do. We just want to make sure that it would be as little time as possible and just hopefully we would be able to get our doors open.”

Mayor Belinda Constant says if there’s any good news to come out of this, because the saltwater wedge isn’t expected to arrive until about October 24th, Gretna Fest next weekend should go off without a hitch. She says while the Mississippi River water levels are very low, because it’s a relatively isolated incident impacting four parishes, there should be plenty of water to go around at these big commercial stores.

“My son texted me and said, ‘mom, need to get you stocked up on water,’” said Mary Helen Williams. “I made an order at Walmart, and I ordered 6 gallons of water and four cases of water.”

Volunteers at Saint Joseph’s are concerned about their Chili Cookoff falling four days after the saltwater wedge is supposed to reach Gretna.

“We had to put the saltwater issue and what we have to do about it as a part of our plan,” Williams said.

“This complex at Saint Joseph’s, we have to get enough water for all the committees that meet here during the week and the month,” Russell Kospelich said.

However, they have full confidence in the city’s leadership and faith in a higher power.

“It’s in God’s hands,” Kospelich said.

“Saint Joseph is going to always take care of Ole Gretna,” Williams said.

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