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Company draws millions of gallons of water while state residents barely have enough to live: ‘Look for basic human need first’

Besides residents being urged to use less water, there have been times when sufficient freshwater wasn’t available for everyday life.

Besides residents being urged to use less water, there have been times when sufficient freshwater wasn't available for everyday life.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

As southern Louisiana experiences a freshwater shortage, residents are being asked to conserve water while a company uses millions of gallons for the construction of a new facility.

What’s happening?

Venture Global began building its liquified natural gas plant, one of the largest such projects in the country, in 2021. Since then, it has used tens of millions of gallons of freshwater to produce concrete with water that has become increasingly scarce. 

The future ramifications of the production and export of dirty energy such as LNG aside, the immediate effects of the construction of the facility are being felt by local residents every day.

Plaquemines Parish, where the facility is being built, is short of freshwater because of saltwater intrusion. Following two years of below-average rainfall in the Midwest, the flow of the Mississippi River isn’t strong enough to keep saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico from creeping upstream and contaminating the water supply.

At the same time that the local government urged residents to conserve water because of a surge in demand in August, Venture Global used over 1 million gallons, 13% of the water in the district. In September, while daily life was disrupted by water shortages, Venture Global used nearly a quarter of the water available to the district.

Why the Venture Global water usage is concerning

Besides residents being urged to use less water, there have been times when sufficient freshwater wasn’t available for everyday life. 

A mother in the area told The Guardian that she resorted to bathing her then-18-month-old daughter in a reusable tote bag using gallons of bottled water; when she tried using the bathtub, barely any water came out.

Schools in the area have gone without air conditioning because there wasn’t enough water available for the chillers to work properly. 

John Sabo, a water resources expert at the ByWater Institute at Tulane University in New Orleans, said, “Whenever you have water shortage, you have to look for basic human need first.”

What’s being done about the freshwater shortage in southern Louisiana?

Unfortunately, not much.

Steps have been taken to protect New Orleans, about 20 miles north of the new facility, but residents of Plaquemines Parish aren’t getting much help.

Local advocates wrote a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October, urging the commission to deny certification for Venture Global, stating that their “industrial use of water is unconscionable given that local people do not have water for our basic needs.”

But just a few days later, Keith Hinkley, the parish president, wrote FERC to say that Venture Global’s water consumption had been “truly insignificant” and that the company had been a “great neighbor.” 

Venture Global received approval to increase its workforce and extend construction activities the next day.

Residents can continue to raise awareness around the local issue and look to ensure that people in charge are educated about the climate issues and willing to enact policies that will make a positive impact on the environment and the people who live there.

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