Reuters – Residents of the Mississippi capital are heading into the end of the year without having clean water in their homes after a freezing winter storm poses a new threat to Jackson’s languishing water infrastructure. .
Residents of the city, who are mostly black, say the main water treatment plant is poorly maintained and has not been funded for years. In August, the pump completely failed, overwhelming historic flooding along the Pearl River, completely cutting off water for his 150,000 residents in Jackson and about 30,000 in the surrounding area.
A massive winter storm that wreaked havoc across the United States and killed more than 30 people in upstate New York just days before Christmas brought unusual cold temperatures to the Deep South. Other Southern cities unaccustomed to freezing weather grappled with similar water problems, including Atlanta. Shreveport, Louisiana. and Selma, Alabama.
Democratic Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antal Lumumba again announced on Sunday that all residents must boil water before using it for cooking or drinking. Some households in the city have no water at all, and authorities are setting up bottled water distribution points daily.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Lumumba said the freeze had caused dozens of burst pipes and other leaks that had yet to be found as emergency workers combed through the city.
He said it could take as early as Saturday to find and repair the leak, restore water pressure and conduct safety tests.
“I would say it’s a bit of an ambitious target,” he said.
The latest crisis has already resulted in a sombre celebration of what has been described as Jackson’s coldest Christmas holiday in decades.
Marty John Prim, owner of Marshall’s Music and Book Store, said, “It was hard to cook. It was miserable.”
Purim, 61, said the latest crisis stemmed from decades of underfunding of the city by majority-white state governments, which began in the 1970s when more and more white residents began to leave the city. Stated. Today, over 80% of her residents are black.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, said the problem stemmed from incompetence and corruption at the local level.
In November, the U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement with the state of Mississippi and the city of Jackson to appoint an interim third-party administrator to stabilize the city’s drinking water supply. The Department of Justice also filed a complaint against the city on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency over the matter.
Mayors say repairing the water system will cost billions of dollars. The U.S. Congress included his $600 million to repair Jackson’s water system in an appropriation bill signed into law last week.
After days of the faucet going completely dry, Primm said she woke up Wednesday to find the weak water flow had returned.
“A shower is out of the question,” said the bookstore owner.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen, New York; Editing by Mark Porter)