Boil-water notice in Jackson, Mississippi, lifted after 7 weeks


Workers at the Highway 18 Walmart distribute the last of 6,000 cases of water to long line of residents in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A boil-water notice was lifted Thursday in Mississippi’s capital city after nearly seven weeks, Gov. Tate Reeves and Jackson officials said.

“We have restored clean water,” Reeves said during a news conference.

Emergency repairs are still underway after problems at Jackson’s main water treatment plant caused most customers to lose service for several days in late August and early September.

Problems started days after torrential rain fell in central Mississippi, altering the quality of the raw water entering Jackson’s treatment plants. That slowed the treatment process, depleted supplies in water tanks and caused a precipitous drop in pressure.

When water pressure drops, there’s a possibility that untreated groundwater can enter the water system through cracked pipes, so customers are told to boil water to kill potentially harmful bacteria.

But even before the rainfall, officials said some water pumps had failed and a treatment plant was using backup pumps. Jackson had already been under a boil-water notice for a month because the state health department had found cloudy water that could make people ill.

In Jackson, the National Guard and volunteer groups have distributed millions of bottles of drinking water since late August.

Although the boil order is no longer in effect, officials have warned that this likely isn’t the end of Jackson’s water problems. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has previously told NewsNation that the water treatment plant, which has been plagued by problems for decades, is still in a “constant state of disrepair and a constant state of many, many, challenges.”

It’s “not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when the systems will fail again, without significant funding, without significant resources to repair them for good,” he said.

Years of divestment has left the system with water screens, water pumps, and membranes that fail. Wells are clogged, Lumumba said, and unable to work, and there’s also a UV light that is “on the fritz.”

“The challenges are vast. The record is clear. We have been speaking about this for many, many years now,” Lumumba said.

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