Officials out of Jackson, Mississippi, are steadily making progress of attempting to get water back to businesses and residents of the area.
Multiple water pumps working at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant broke down and failed earlier this past week in the wake of severe storms which forced the Pearl River to overflow its banks, prompting a bout of low water pressure and an extreme risk of bacterial infection, as stated in a press release from the Mississippi Department of Health. Both state and federal officials — which included Governor Tate Reeves (R-MS), Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (D-MS), and President Joe Biden — have stepped up to issue emergency declarations.
“We have officially launched seven state-run water distribution sites around the impacted area of this crisis,” exclaimed Reeves as part of a statement from this past Friday. “These sites will be well-stocked, well-staffed, and well-prepared to handle the continued emergency of the coming days.”
Back on Thursday morning, an announcement from the City of Jackson went out that “over half of the tanks on the surface system have begun filling back up,” giving back “some pressure” to many residents. Officials from both the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are assisting the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency — which has made sure to warn the resident to not drink their tap water — with repairs as Jackson struggles through its fifth day with no standardized water resources.
The water supply of Jackson has seen multiple interruptions over the past few decades. Earlier this past year, the Environmental Protection Agency slammed the city leadership with a notice of noncompliance over not “repairing and maintaining equipment necessary to reliably produce drinking water.”
As a member of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership’s executive committee and the co-owner of a series of three restaurants seated in the heart of Jackson, Jeff Good stated that he has officially filed three insurance claims over the course of 28 years due to business interruptions stemming from the water system of the city.
“I’m in that world of business, and I see the pains and challenges we have. We’re trying to bring industry to our town,” he stated. “A failing infrastructure is a very hard thing to sell a new factory or restaurant on.”
Good stated that the inaction in regards to fixing the city’s water system to the extreme political turmoil of Jackson, which has gone through a total of eight mayors since 1997, as well as an extreme decline in the economy of the city. The population of Jackson dropped from about 174,000 residents in 2010 to 154,000 residents in 2020, as reported in a data segment coming from the Census Bureau.
Two of the facilities owned by Good, were forced to close for almost 21 days throughout the winter freeze that slammed a large portion of the southern United States in 2021. “Hopefully, this will not become that same thing because the state stepped in,” he claimed. “The scary thing is to think about it being that long again … What does that say to the insurance companies? How hard do you think it is for me to get that business interruption insurance?”
Due to this, Jackson Public Schools have chosen Tuesday to make the move to go back to virtual instruction. “We will continue to closely monitor the water conditions on a day-by-day basis at our schools while conferring with city officials to determine when scholars and staff can safely return for in-person learning,” read a statement issued by the school system.