New Orleans Gets Salty | God's World News
New Orleans Gets Salty
Science Soup
Posted: January 01, 2024
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    A tanker ship moves upriver through water and sediment in September 2023 in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
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    People use boats to build an underwater dam near New Orleans on September 26, 2023. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
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    Reverse osmosis systems are prepared to be sent to the lower Mississippi River region. (Newswire)
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    Louisiana locals bought bottled fresh water from stores. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
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    Two dogs walk a stretch of riverbank that usually remains underwater. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
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    These steps usually reach the water, but river water levels dropped sharply in mid-2023. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
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Hey! There’s salt in my water!

Residents of New Orleans, Louisiana, complain about salt. And they have good reason to. Their city lies near where the mighty Mississippi River flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Their drinking water comes from the Mississippi. But this year, a little too much ocean crept into the river. Salt water ran through indoor plumbing. It left ice machines and water heaters rusty, crusty, and busted. Home and business owners groaned. Thanks, salty Mississippi!

The salt invasion started in spring 2023. By early October, water intakes in some Louisiana towns had grown salty.

Officials warned, “Don’t drink the water!” Trucks pulled up, loaded with bottled water. Big boats piloted to the trouble spots. They dumped loads of fresh water. They literally “watered down” the salty flow.

So why has salt come to town?

A drought hit the American West last year. Less water flowed into the Mississippi River.

Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all faced drought. Each of these states is part of the vast Mississippi River Basin. (The basin touches 32 states!) The lower, slower river flow allowed salty gulf water to push toward land.

Folks in New Orleans built an underwater dam to stop salt water. They have had to do this four other times. But this is the first time they’ve had to use dams two years in a row.

In the fall, Louisiana finally got just what it needed—some rain. WaterSurplus, a company from Illinois, stepped in to help too. It sent reverse osmosis (RO) filtration systems to Louisiana. Those systems clean minerals—including salt—from water. They will produce more than four million gallons of usable water per day.

Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” — John 7:38

Why? Drought can lead to salt water in the wrong place. People must work together for long-term solutions.