Water woes linger in Mississippi capital weeks after winter storms

Mid-South

FILE – In this Feb. 22, 2021, file photo, Madonna Manor maintenance supervisor Lamar Jackson left, stacks bottled water brought by Mac Epps of Mississippi Move, as part of the supply efforts by city councilman and State Rep. De’Keither Stamps to a senior residence in west Jackson, Miss. The snow and ice that crippled some states across the South has melted. But it has exposed the fragility of aging waterworks that experts have been warning about for years. Cities across Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi are still grappling with outages that crippled health care facilities and forced families to wait in line for potable water. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Water for flushing toilets was being distributed at seven sites in Mississippi’s capital city, roughly two weeks after winter storms wreaked havoc on the city’s water system.

The sites were open in Jackson on Sunday because the system is still struggling to maintain consistent water pressure, authorities said.

The system has not been able to provide a sustainable flow of water throughout the city, city officials said.

“Our system has basically crashed like a computer and now we’re trying to rebuilt it,” Jackson Public Works Director Charles Williams said at a Sunday briefing.

One of many solutions has been to open fire hydrants in the city, which allows more water to flow to south Jackson and other parts of the city with the lowest pressure, he said. Crews are also trying to get water storage tanks filled.

No specific timeline was given for when the problems would be fixed. The city does not have exact numbers of people still without water, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said at Sunday’s briefing.

Help is needed now in Jackson, but long-term support from the federal government will also be needed to upgrade the system, the mayor said. Needs with the city’s infrastructure have gone unaddressed for decades, he said.

“We more than likely have more than a $2 billion issue with our infrastructure,” he said.

The storms have become “a financial nightmare” for some Jackson families, Democratic state Rep. Ronnie Crudup Jr. said on social media.

“A lot of people didn’t work for over a week because of water and power issues,” he wrote. “On top of that energy and gas bills are going to be higher because of the extreme cold weather last week.”

“Most working families don’t have savings, so people are in survival mode right now,” Crudup added.

Most of the city of about 161,000 had no running water after the storms struck, and residents were advised to boil any water that actually came out of their taps.

The mayor said that the city’s water mains are more than 100 years old and not built to handle the freezing weather that hit the city.

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