Mississippi Governor Declares Water Emergency For State's Capital, Jackson

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The city of Jackson, Mississippi is currently in the throes of another water crisis as the state has placed it under a state of emergency, with residents sharply criticizing the governor.

According to Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, the recent torrential rains last week which flooded the Pearl River that runs through Jackson, has compromised the water system of the city to the point that they’ve advised residents not to drink the water.

On Monday (August 29) Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said that the river’s flooding damaged the O.B. Curtis Water Plant. The plant is the city’s only water treatment facility. Jackson was already under a boil-water notice for a month before this calamity.

Gov. Reeves said that the state was “surging our resources to the city’s water treatment facility and beginning emergency maintenance, repairs, and improvements,” before concluding, “We will do everything in our power to restore water pressure and get water flowing back to the people of Jackson.” The National Guard was called into action to help distribute water to residents of the majority-Black city on Tuesday, but the supplies quickly ran out.

“I keep saying we’re going to be the next Michigan,” said Jeraldine Watts, an 86-year-old resident who managed to get water at a nearby store. “And it looks like that’s exactly what we’re headed for.” Many residents like her feel this situation is just like the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

The current situation is sadly nothing new for Jackson citizens who had to endure another water crisis as pipes burst during the winter months of 2021. The Environmental Protection Agency had already issued an emergency warning the year before about their water system, deemed “an imminent and substantial endangerment” to the people with instances of lead contaminating the water.

There is an estimate that it could cost up to $2 billion to totally repair Jackson’s water system. Mississippi received $75 million from the Biden administration last February for infrastructure needs. Mayor Antar Lumumba has called out state officials for the inaction and racist exploitation involving the city’s water system in the past.

In an April interview with Mississippi Today, he said that the withholding of state funds to help repair the city’s water infrastructure was “racist” and deliberate. “And there are going to be people who don’t like that I say that,” Lumumba continued. “But if they really have heartburn about it, prove me wrong. I dare you. I dare you to prove me wrong,” he said.