The residents of New Orleans are accustomed to preparing for natural disasters like hurricanes and floods 

In addition to familiar threats, New Orleans faces a unique challenge—an intrusion of salty water moving up the Mississippi River, endangering the city's drinking water supply 

Unlike sudden storms, this crisis has a prolonged lead time, with the worst saltwater intrusion expected late in October 

Prolonged exposure to salty water could corrode the city's lead-lined pipes, compounding the problem 

The crisis is a result of drought conditions in the Midwest, reducing water levels in the Mississippi River, allowing saltwater from the Gulf to intrude upstream 

The "saltwater wedge" could reach water treatment plants near New Orleans in about a month, affecting up to a million people in southeastern Louisiana 

Officials are taking measures to slow the intrusion, including strengthening underwater barriers and transporting fresh water by barge 

The duration of the intrusion remains uncertain, with preparations made for up to three months 

Climate change intensifies drought conditions, making this crisis potentially more severe than previous dry years 

Federal authorities have been alerted, and President Biden authorized FEMA to assist in managing the crisis. Public officials urge residents to stay informed and remain calm