A water crisis is currently happening in Jackson, Mississippi. It has made daily tasks involving water fairly difficult and has left citizens without safe drinking water. Additionally, the situation has forced many to manually transport their gallons of water from distribution sites to their houses.
According to officials, they are restoring the water pressure after a severe winter storm that also affected the area three weeks ago. Some areas in the city, particularly those located in high elevations, are still experiencing low water pressure or none at all by Monday.
Apart from this, the water being distributed on tap remains unsafe to drink. With this, the city still follows a boil issue, which has been issued on Feb. 16.
Tests on the water showed high levels of turbidity. This indicates a higher chance that the water has potentially dangerous organisms.
On Mondy, Charles Williams, the Public Works director, mentioned that the boil notice will be lifted in some areas on Thursday after they manage to fill up all the water tanks and take some samples. Meanwhile, the state’s Department of Health already gave the go signal to start the tests.
It has been three weeks since the winter storm, but why is it taking so long for Jackson to solve the water crisis? How did this happen?
February: Severe Winter Storm Causes Water Crisis in Jackson
On Feb. 16, the severe winter storm choked the city’s water treatment facilities, causing an immediate decrease in water pressure. With this, the water boil notice was issued.
Two days later, Jackson’s mayor, Chowke Antar Lumumba, admitted that they still do not have a definitive timeline in restoring the water pressure in the area.
On the same day, water distribution sites started popping up around the city. However, the water being distributed here are nonpotable.
On Feb. 22, the state’s Health Department issued boil advisories across Mississippi. Meanwhile, stores saw a surge in people looking for bottled drinking water due to the continued lack of potable water being distributed. This caused their supplies to run low.
The city also provided 26,500 bottles of drinking water and 7,000 gallons of non-drinking water, as per Jackson spokeswoman Michelle Atoa.
A day later, Gov. Tate reeves activated the state’s National Guard to assist as the crisis goes on. He also suggested that the state should take over Jackson’s water system.
By Feb. 25, water pressure has started to gradually increase at the treatment facility, allowing them to distribute more water through the main system. With this, city officials said they would hopefully be able to restore water by Feb. 26.
March: Water Outages Persist, Boil Notice Remains
However, this did not fall through, and pressure decreased once again at the start of March. By this time, around 80 main breaks have been found since the winter storm. Workers fixed the breaks while volunteers helped manage distribution sites.
With this, the Water System Business Administration said it would give residents the opportunity to get their bills adjusted if they were affected by the storm.
By March 2, the city government admitted they did not have the data on the number of people affected. Additionally, as per Williams, people in south Jackson, primarily those in high elevation, were still dealing with outages. However, he also said he didn’t know the exact figures.
The next day, on March 3, officials admitted that old infrastructure caused the prolonged outage. He also mentioned that at least 10,000 people did not have water.
On March 4, Lumumba has requested $47 million of emergency funds from both the state and federal government. He aims to use it for projects connected to the water system’s facilities.
Additionally, the state’s Health Department continues to monitor how safe the city’s water supply is. According to State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, they are working closely with the city.
By March 8, low water pressure still persists, and the boil advisory hasn’t been lifted.