{saltwater intrusion} lake pontchartrain

Saltwater intrusion is the influx of saline water into freshwater ecosystems. It can be caused by natural or human-induced events such as hurricanes, coastal wells, navigation channels, or oil field canals.

For example, Lake Pontchartrain is a brackish estuarine ecology that is becoming increasingly more saline due to the intrusion of saltwater from the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC) and MRGO channel. The saltwater has led to the extensive degradation and destruction of freshwater wetlands.

Saltwater is more dense than freshwater and the two combine to create a stratified water column that can lead to severely hypoxic conditions. In Lake Pontchartrain, hypoxic water creates a “dead zone” covering up to 100 mi2 of the lake. This impacts wildlife such as fish populations, however plants and benthic invertebrates (like clams) are affected more severely as they cannot relocate to more favorable conditions.

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