Those efforts include urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to expedite repairs of Leland Bowman Locks and evaluate options for a temporary saltwater barrier, working with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) to provide farmers support for damaged crops, and working with local officials to find additional short and long term solutions for protecting the area.
The cause of saltwater intrusion in the Mermentau Basin is largely attributable to drought conditions in the upper basin and damage to the Leland Bowman Locks on Freshwater Bayou.
GOHSEP has contacted the Corps of Engineers about repairing the locks. The locks help prevent saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico from entering Southwest Louisiana.
On Monday, Vermilion Parish declared an emergency and pleaded for help from state and federal officials to prevent the salt water from fouling the Mermentau River basin, a 700-square-mile area of mostly freshwater marsh.
The rising salt level in the basin is threatening thousands of acres of farmland used for crawfish ponds, cattle ranches, duck hunting, rice fields and alligator and fish farms. Farmers rely on freshwater from the basin.
Salt water intrusion is a growing problem in Louisiana because the state is losing its shoreline buffer against the Gulf.