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The City of New Orleans

Lower Mississippi Saltwater Intrusion

Water Conservation

  • As the saltwater wedge impacts our area, everyone plays a part in the quality of our tap water.
  • To provide less salty water, the Sewerage and Water Board (SWB) are mixing fresh water from upriver into the salt water at our intakes.
  • Once the SWB begin blending efforts, conservation will be important.
    • Conservation is not necessary before we start blending.
  • The less tap water you use, the further that fresh water goes.
    • The SWB Carrollton Water Treatment Plant typically treats 150 million gallons per day to serve New Orleans’ Eastbank. To continue providing adequate supply to fulfill the Eastbank’s current usage, the SWB need roughly 100-130 million gallons of fresh water for blending.

Conservation Tips

Do This!

  • Take shorter showers.
    • Showers use less water than baths.
    • You can also turn off the water while you bathe and then turn it back on to rinse.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry.
    • If you are concerned about the impacts of salt water on your washing machine, check with your manufacturer, vendor, and/or service provider to understand the potential effects on your specific equipment.
  • If you have access to a dishwasher, use it.
    • Make sure to run a full load.
    • Avoid handwashing dishes.
    • Do not rinse dishes before you load the dishwasher. Wipe them with a sponge, scraper, or paper towel instead.
    • If you must handwash, be water efficient. Plug your sink and fill it with soapy water to wash. Refill it with clean water to rinse.
    • If you are concerned about the impacts of salt water on your dishwasher, check with your manufacturer, vendor, and/or service provider to understand the potential effects on your specific equipment.
  • Check your toilets for leaks.
    • A leaking toilet can waste 15,000 gallons of water a month.
    • Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in your toilet tank. Don’t flush for about 10 minutes. If any color shows up in the toilet bowl, you have a leak. (Source: EPA)
      • Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.
      • If your toilet has a leak:
        • Check your flapper to see if it is sitting properly in the valve seat. Some common issues can involve a chain that is too short, a loose toilet handle, or a deteriorated flapper.
        • Check your fill valve and ensure the water level on your tank is adjusted properly.
        • Learn more about how to fix a leaking toilet at Regional Water Providers Consortium’s website.
  • Check your faucets and showerheads for leaks.
    • A slow showerhead leak (10 drips per minute) can waste over 40 gallons per month. (EPA)
    • A faucet leak (one drip per second) can waste more than 250 gallons per month.
  • Turn off faucets when you can.
    • …while you brush your teeth.
    • …while you soap your hands.
    • …while you shave.
      • Turning off the tap can save 200 gallons of water per month.
    • Make sure to turn off the faucets tightly so that water doesn’t drip or leak.

Consider This

  • Sweep, don’t spray.
    • Sweep dirt off porches, sidewalks, and driveways. Save the water.
  • Can you go without that car wash?
    • A dirty car is a sign you are doing your part.
    • If you have to wash a car, fill a bucket and clean with a sponge instead of spraying with a hose.
  • Let grass go dormant.
    • Your lawn needs to recharge just like you, so it naturally goes dormant based on seasonality. Keep your sprinkler off for a few more weeks.
      • Grass may turn brown when dormant, but that does not mean it’s dead. It means you’re doing your part. Most healthy turf grasses can be left dormant for three to four weeks without the grass dying.
      • Dormancy can even encourage a healthier lawn.
  • Some plants need to be watered. When our tap water is fresh enough for plants, please be thoughtful about what you water and how.
    • Hand watering uses less water than a sprinkler.
    • Water your outdoor plants in the morning or evening when it’s cooler, so less water evaporates.
    • While your shower warms up, use a bucket or bowl to catch cold water.
      • Over 10 percent of a typical shower is wasted waiting for hot water to arrive.
      • Use it to water plants, clean, or fill toilet tanks.
    • Consider installing a rain barrel to catch the rain for outdoor use. (Bonus: capturing stormwater keeps it out of streets and canals.)
      • A properly installed rain barrel will not grow mosquitoes.
      • Need rain barrel advice? Contact Green Light NOLA at
      • You can also purchase a rain barrel at your local Jefferson Feed and Harold's.

Do Your Part

  • We all have a role to play in efficiently and responsibly using the limited freshwater resources we have at this time.
  • As New Orleanians / Louisianians, we are used to living with water. But we are not used to conserving our water. (We usually have plenty to spare!)
  • We have tips on how to conserve water so you can protect yourselves, your neighbors, and those you care about.
  • Please do not lose faith in conservation efforts as salt levels in the water increase. We ask that you continue conservation efforts until the saltwater wedge impacts are past us.
    • As the salt content increases, conservation will become even more important to allow our blending practices to go further.
  • New Orleans / Louisiana is a resilient city / state. Our people continue to defy odds, despite how many “unprecedented” circumstances we seem to face.