Oct 3, 2023 - News

How NOLA Public Schools is prepping for possible salt impact

NOLA Public Schools superintendent Avis Williams speaks at a podium.

NOLA Public Schools superintendent Avis Williams says the system is monitoring potential saltwater impacts. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

NOLA Public Schools officials are working on plans to keep running "business as usual" should salt water impact the New Orleans-area water supply.

The big picture: The system is responsible for 43,000 students.

Catch up quick: Saltwater intrusion in the Mississippi River is threatening New Orleans' drinking water.

  • Mitigation strategies are in the works to keep potable water flowing in homes and businesses, but concern among locals is still growing.

Where it stands: Water fountains in local schools already filter out microorganisms, lead and sediment, says NOLA Public Schools superintendent Avis Williams, but they do not filter salt.

The latest: Williams said at a press conference Tuesday that she is in contact with city and state officials as they monitor the salt's approach.

  • She is also in touch with Jefferson Parish Schools superintendent James Gray should the two systems need to share information and resources, Williams says.
  • NOLA Public Schools are monitoring potential impacts on drinking water, meal prep and infrastructure.

If needed, school officials will cover water fountains, purchase heat-and-eat meals and distribute bottled water for students and staff, Williams says.

  • The Mahalia Jackson Center and McDonogh 35 Senior High School would serve as water distribution centers for the schools.
  • Officials are also considering purchasing reverse osmosis filters for kitchen equipment.
  • The biggest infrastructure concern, said NOLA Public Schools COO Don LeDuff, is the impact of salt water on HVAC systems, particularly if they are exposed to salt over a long period of time.

What's not happening: Williams does not expect schools to switch to remote teaching.

Go deeper: We're answering reader questions about the saltwater crisis

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