Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state is days away from requesting a federal emergency declaration related to the saltwater intrusion of the Mississippi River that threatens drinking water.
“I can tell you in the next couple of days we will be requesting an emergency declaration from the federal government as well for the purpose of getting more federal agencies involved to the extent that can be helpful,” Bel Edwards said in an update. “But also authorizing us to take emergency protective measures with some level of reimbursement available from the federal government should that federal emergency declaration be granted.”
A representative with the governor’s office confirmed to Fox News Digital, “We are still working on our request and hope to have it done soon.”
The governor already issued a state of emergency declaration earlier this month, and he noted that the state has already had some assistance from federal partners.
Saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico has started to creep into the drought-stricken Mississippi River, threatening drinking water in New Orleans and other areas.
“Unfortunately, we just haven’t had the relief from dry conditions … so that intrusion is worsening, in the sense that it’s moving further up the river,” Edwards said.
The Mississippi is also forecast to reach historic lows over the next few weeks, he added.
Plaquemines Parish, in the southeastern part of the state, is already under a drinking water advisory due to high salt levels in the water. Bottled water is being distributed to residents.
“Most of the state has been experiencing prolonged drought and above-average heat, and has presented a number for challenges including wildfires, drought, heat-related deaths, injuries and so forth and now saltwater intrusion,” Edwards said.
He added that the state is “being proactive” about the issue, including heightening an underwater levee used to block or slow the wedge of salt water and bringing in 15 million gallons of fresh water for residents in impacted areas.
Edwards urged residents not to “panic” and said the state would be as transparent as possible, adding that residents would be notified if their water was affected.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.