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The City of New Orleans

Lower Mississippi Saltwater Intrusion

Frequently Asked Questions

Impacts on Water

How can I test my water if it tastes or looks different?

Water systems are conducting increased water monitoring and will issue drinking water advisories about their system’s water quality.

How do I know whether my drinking water contains salt?

Local and state authorities will notify residents when their water is affected.

What can I do to reduce or eliminate salt from my drinking water?

Sodium cannot be easily removed from drinking water and cannot be removed through boiling or conventional filtration like Brita filters or other common household store-bought water filters. Once your water system is affected, it is recommended to use bottled water or some other freshwater source.

How do I determine what water system supplies water to my home?

Please check your water bill to identify your water system and its contact information.

I bought a home water test which shows my salinity levels are above 250 parts per million (ppm). My neighbor used water quality test strips that show high salt readings. Are these tests kits and strips accurate?

There is a wide range of quality and accuracy among commercially available home water tests, and they are not as accurate as tests performed in a laboratory that use high-tech equipment and scientific testing methods. The Louisiana Department of Health is working closely with all water systems affected by the saltwater intrusion.  Any water system which exceeds 250 parts per million of chloride will issue a High Sodium Water Advisory.

Impacts on Health & Safety

Why is saltwater intrusion a health risk?

Saltwater can make drinking water unsafe, especially for vulnerable people including but not limited to people with kidney disease or high blood pressure, people on a low-sodium diet, dialysis patients, infants and pregnant women. The health effects of drinking saltwater have been found to be associated with cardiovascular diseases, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Contact your primary care provider regarding your specific health risks.

What steps should I take to protect my infant or young children?

For infants, use bottled spring/purified water to prepare formula if breastfeeding is not an option. Ready-to-feed formula (“RTF”) or pre-made formula is also an option. When using formula, be sure to follow your child’s primary healthcare provider and manufacturer’s instructions for preparing and storing formula.

Can my pet drink salt water?

No. Salt water is not appropriate for pets to drink. Please ensure you are only providing bottled water or some other fresh water source for pets.

Impacts on Plumbing & Appliance

Can the saltwater damage my pipes? If so, what should I do to prevent this?

Over time, high levels of saltwater can cause damage to plumbing, appliances, cooling systems that use water, and water heaters. The best source of information for specific equipment under these conditions is the manufacturer, vendor and/or service provider.

Can my business or property use an emergency well? If so, what do I need to know?

Yes. See this website for more information about private wells:

What effect will the salinity have on the infrastructure and chilled water cooling systems for commercial and industrial facilities?

The best source of information is the manufacturer, vendor and/or service provider.