Up to 180,000 people who rely on the City of Jackson’s water system are unable to use the service as processing at a major treatment facility is disrupted. State officials are declaring this an emergency and are stepping in to help resolve the issue.
Highly contaminated flood waters from the Pearl River have led to a disruption at the O B Curtis water treatment facility in Jackson, as the small crew of engineers are unable to process enough water to keep pressure in the system. Now, residents across the city and some in Byram have zero water pressure, and what little there is has been deemed unsafe to drink. State Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney says the city has been under a boil water notice for a month, and this current development has escalated the severity of the situation.
“The public health concerns are significant based on the failure of multiple pumps that pump raw water at O B Curtis, severe understaffing at both Fewell Water Plant and O B Curtis,” says Dr. Edney. “Very low water pressures at overhead storage tanks which is why the City of Jackson today there was very poor water flow.”
Governor Tate Reeves is issuing a state of emergency declaration, and an assessment team will set up a command center at the water treatment plant today to better understand the situation. The state is expected to partner with the city in hiring outside contractors to assist in the operation. While residents are without water, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Stephen McCraney says both drinking water and nonpotable water will be distributed at several locations.
McCraney says “We have already ordered water to backfill our other needs out of our logistical warehouse, and we are also asking the governor to do an executive order to mobilize the national guard for a command and control cell to be able to do what we do in a normal hurricane incident. It’s a pod, it’s a point of distribution.”
City officials in Jackson have declared a local state of emergency, although Governor Reeves says his staff did not contact the Mayor to join in the late-evening press conference announcing these plans to the public.