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What New Orleans’ Water Contamination Means for You

Is New Orleans’ water contaminated?

Recent announcements from the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board (SWBNO) have brought to light potential impacts on drinking water due to saltwater moving up the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico. Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening and what this water contamination could mean for residents of New Orleans.

A Proactive Stance on Safety

The SWBNO has reiterated its commitment to the health and safety of its customers, with Executive Director Ghassan Korban emphasizing that every decision made is informed by the well-being of residents. In this unprecedented situation, all available resources will be utilized to protect residents and communicate plans effectively.

The Impending Saltwater Threat

Saltwater from the Gulf is moving upriver, displacing freshwater due to lack of rainfall in the Midwest, and is expected to threaten water supplies upriver in October. Officials have warned that without preventive measures, the saltwater could potentially reach all the way to the French Quarter.

Accelerated Movement of Saltwater

Interestingly, the saltwater is moving north about 10 days faster during low-river years now than before the navigation channel in the river was deepened to accommodate larger vessels. This acceleration has necessitated a reevaluation of timelines and potential impacts on the New Orleans area.

Addressing Contamination

Various alternatives are being reviewed to address potential saltwater contamination. These include barging in water from further upriver and installing reverse-osmosis equipment that can remove salt as part of the treatment process for smaller facilities.

Future Preparedness

The Sewerage & Water Board is mindful in planning its response, considering that any infrastructure adjustments made could be more permanent to ensure preparedness for future events.

Staying Informed

Residents are urged to sign up for NOLA Ready emergency alerts by texting NOLAREADY to 77295 for phone or email alerts. Staying informed is essential as the situation unfolds.


What This Means for You

  • Water Safety: While the city’s water is presently safe to drink, residents should stay informed and prepared for any changes in water quality.
  • Proactive Measures: The SWBNO and other officials are actively working on measures to prevent contamination and ensure the continued safety of drinking water.
  • Community Support: Coordination with downriver partners and support for impacted areas is ongoing, highlighting a community-centric approach to handling the situation.
  • Future Preparedness: Infrastructure adjustments are being considered to address not only the current situation but also to ensure preparedness for similar events in the future.



The potential water contamination in New Orleans is a critical issue, but proactive measures and community support are in place to mitigate its impact. Stay informed, stay safe, and rest assured that the well-being of residents is at the forefront of every decision being made.

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