Emergency declared over Jackson, Mississippi water crisis

Infrastructure

(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration in Jackson, Mississippi, Tuesday after flooding took out the city’s main water treatment facility.

The water system in Jackson has failed in recent days, leaving residents with little to no drinking water. Officials have blamed flooding along the Pearl River, but previous issues have plagued the local water treatment plant’s operations for decades.

Most people in the state’s capital don’t have any running water, and the city has already been under a boil water advisory for more than a month. That means more than 150,000 people don’t have water to drink, flush toilets, cook food or even shower.

Residents waited in long lines for bottles of water, which reportedly ran out quickly, on Tuesday and stores shelves are bare.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said the situation improved overnight, and that more locations offered bottled water Wednesday.

But Jackson is no stranger to water issues. There have been recorded problems with the city’s water system since it was installed. The first call to upgrade the water system was in 1948, yet many of those same pipes are still used today.

In the 1970s, the EPA issued its first warning about the water system’s quality. Winter storms in 1989, 1994, 2010 and 2024 all caused multi-week water outages in Jackson.

In 2016, the EPA detected high lead levels in the city’s water.

Recent heavy rains pushed the Pearl River, which runs through the city, over its banks and well above flood levels, causing the water plant to go offline.

At the same time that the flood hit, the city’s other water plant experienced a pump issue, meaning it was unable to pick up the slack for the flooded facility.

It isn’t an easy fix either. It would cost an estimated $1 billion to repair Jackson’s water system, and another billion dollars to rebuild the city’s sewage system, CNN reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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