Floods knock out drinking water supply in Jackson, Mississippi

By Thomson Reuters Aug 29, 2022 | 10:03 PM

(Reuters) – Jackson, Mississippi, stopped producing running water for much of the city on Monday after flooding damaged its main treatment plant, leading officials to declare an emergency and begin alternate water distribution for 180,000 people indefinitely.

Officials had been aware in recent days that Jackson’s main water treatment facility was vulnerable, operating with severe pump damage and without a reliable backup, Governor Tate Reeves said in an emergency address on Monday.

City and state officials had gathered earlier on Monday, hoping to implement an emergency plan before an inevitable failure.

“Unfortunately, that failure appears to have begun today,” Reeves said. “Until it is if fixed, it means we do not have reliable running water at scale. It means the city cannot produce enough water to fight fires, to reliably flush toilets, and to meet other critical needs.”

Jackson, the state capital, is more than 80% Black or African American, according to U.S. Census data. It sits on the Pearl River, which has swollen to dangerously high levels in recent days, affecting the city’s O.B. Curtis Water Plant, according to a city press release.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba declared a water system emergency on Monday, saying in a press release that many customers had low or no water pressure.

The city and state were both setting up bottled water distribution centers, which the governor called a “massively complicated logistical task.”

“Do not drink the water,” Reeves said, referring to the piped supply. “In too many cases, it is raw water from the reservoir being pushed through the pipes. Be smart. Protect yourself. Protect your family.”

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Bradley Perrett)