Oct 3, 2023 - News

New Orleans pipeline bids in review as salt water nears

Pipes are delivered to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans, headquarters to assist with transferring water on and off of barges. Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Construction bids are under review in New Orleans after officials approved plans to pipe in water from further upriver along the Mississippi.

Why it matters: Every day counts as the city races to line up strategies for coping with saltwater intrusion that's expected at New Orleans water treatment plant intakes by Oct. 22.

Catch up quick: A drought means the Mississippi River doesn't have enough water flowing through it to keep the salt water in the Gulf of Mexico, where the New Orleans metro pulls its drinking water from, at bay

  • Approved plans for the Carrollton and East Jefferson water treatment plants call for 10 to 15 miles of piping that will bring freshwater in to dilute intakes to safe salt levels.
  • At smaller plants, including in Gretna and Algiers, officials plan to barge in water for dilution and install desalination technology.

What's happening: The New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board said Monday that it sent two bid packages "to various contractors" to build the new pipelines on the East and West banks. The quote deadline was Monday.

  • "Those quotes are being reviewed and routed through emergency procurement," according to a SWBNO spokesperson. "We are also working with GOSHEP and FEMA so that we can we ensure any expenses are eligible for emergency reimbursement."
  • The pipeline projects have been estimated at $100 million to more than $250 million.
  • Since President Biden signed a national emergency declaration for the situation, officials expect 75% of the cost to be reimbursed.

Go deeper: We answered reader questions about saltwater intrusion

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