Saltwater Intrusion Resources
Saltwater intrusion refers to the movement of salt water into freshwater aquifers. This can degrade groundwater quality, contaminating sources used for drinking and crop irrigation. Extended droughts can push this saltwater-freshwater boundary inland, reducing the soil’s ability to flush out salt. This becomes a significant concern because saltwater is not suitable for irrigation or consumption, presenting challenges for coastal communities reliant on freshwater.
Climate change intensifies these threats. Extended droughts can decrease water levels and flow rates of rivers, allowing tidal inflow of salt and brackish water to raise salt concentrations and widen exposure areas. This phenomenon is evident along waterways like the Mississippi River. Other climate change-driven factors exacerbating the issue include rising sea levels, king tides, and the increasing frequency and severity of storms and hurricanes.
For further information on saltwater intrusion and protective measures for communities, please refer to the resources provided below. Additionally, we’ve listed contacts for experts who can offer insights and address any questions about this topic.
Freshwater-Saltwater Interactions along the Atlantic Coast | USGS
Groundwater and the Rising Seas | NEEF
Salt Water Intrudes On Household Wells and Septic Systems | Pulitzer Center
Saltwater Intrusion | Louisiana Department of Health
Saltwater Incursion | PSU
Desalination | USGS
Restore or retreat? saltwater intrusion and water management in coastal wetlands | Ecosystem Health and Sustainability
Best Practices for Prevention of Saltwater Intrusion | British Columbia
Adaptation Strategies for Saltwater Intrusion | Indiana University
Resilient Strategies Guide for Water Utilities | US EPA
Plan-to-adapt-to-saltwater-intrusion-and-salinization | Maryland
Climate Adaptation and Saltwater Intrusion | US EPA
Subject Matter Experts
Chief, Hydrologic Interpretive Branch
New England Water Science Center
Sam Sherchan, Ph.D
Morgan State University