President Biden approved a disaster declaration Wednesday in Louisiana in connection with saltwater intrusion into the state’s drinking water.
The White House declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to mobilize resources in Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. FEMA will provide emergency assistance including temporary assistance for water treatment at 75 percent federal funding for a maximum of 90 days.
The Mississippi River is at an all-time low due to extreme drought and heat, allowing saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to enter the water supply. Louisiana and Mississippi have experienced record-breaking heat this year, and central Louisiana is facing an “exceptional” drought.
Governor John Bel Edwards has requested an emergency declaration as the crisis has surpassed the capacity of state and local resources. The saltwater intrusion could affect up to 20% of the state until the beginning of 2024.
Mitigation efforts are underway, and the emergency declaration will provide financial support for protective measures. Further requests may be necessary as the situation unfolds.