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EPA and DOJ compelle Jackson leaders to cooperate on water repairs

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EPA Administrator Regan also visited with city and state leaders earlier in September to discuss plans for updating and maintaining the O B Curtis Water Facility
Kobee Vance, MPB News

The federal government intends to have greater involvement in maintaining Jackson’s water infrastructure, issuing a notice that will lead to voluntary or mandatory cooperation.

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The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice are compelling the City of Jackson to join them in making plans to update the city’s water infrastructure, or the federal agency will file an action against the city under the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA Administrator Michael Regan met with the mayor of Jackson yesterday to discuss this matter, as well as allow the two bodies to share their plans in regard to the failing water infrastructure. He says the city’s residents have lived without reliable water for too long.

Regan says “During that meeting, I conveyed directly to the mayor, as I have before, our desire to work with the mayor, work with the city, to reach a judicially enforceable agreement that ensures a sustainable water system can be in play for the mid and longer terms.”

Administrator Regan says the letter given to the city is a formality, the city is prepared to cooperate, and he would prefer the city maintain control over its water supply. But he says it is not off the table that the agency step in and take greater control if necessary.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba says the city is not blind to its limitations in maintaining the system.

“And in recognition of those limitations, we don’t reject the notion of assistance, we don’t reject the notion of even a third party coming in for operations and maintenance,” says Lumumba. “I feel that it is my responsibility as the mayor of the City of Jackson to indicate to our residents what reach is in our best interest.”

While the EPA administrator was in Jackson, a water main burst requiring a boil notice to be issued for more than one thousand customers.