By Arianna Santiago
There are over 150,000 residents currently without clean water in Jackson, Mississippi.
In late August of 2022, heavy rainfall led to flooding at the Pearl River. As a result, it affected the treatment process at one of the water treatment plants–a plant with already damaged pumps. The failure caused thousands of homes to be with low water pressure, causing the people of Jackson to have insufficient water for drinking, bathing, and flushing.
“This entire situation reflects the lack of infrastructure investment that is unfortunately typical of many parts of the US,” said Daniel Huber, University of Tampa Professor of Environmental Studies.
Residents were in disbelief seeing severely discolored water coming out of their faucets after the pressure was restored.
“This is horrible and needs to be fixed as soon as possible, said Abby Weintraub, senior accounting major. “Nobody should have to live this way.”
After a long seven weeks for residents, the boil-water notice was finally lifted.
“The system is still imperfect, and we’re going to address issues throughout the duration of the state’s response. It is possible, although I pray not inevitable, that there will be further interruption. We cannot perfectly predict what will go wrong with such a broken system,” Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said as reported by NBC News.
This isn’t the first time reports and concerns about the water in Jackson have been expressed. In July this year, Jackson residents were out under a boil-water advisory after the health department found clouded water that could potentially cause health problems.
“Jackson, Mississippi has had a combination of pump failures, leaky pipes, and contamination that has resulted in numerous ‘boil water advisories’ over the past few years,” said Huber.
In 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that the systems Jackson used failed their inspection. It discovered that the water for consumption had the potential to host parasites and harmful bacteria.
“Access to clean water is an environmental problem that manifested itself in Jackson, MS because human systems (e.g., local governments, water treatment facilities) could not meet the demand of the local population,” said Huber.
In a separate visit, the EPA also found that the plant had a severe staffing problem. They deemed that the lack of staff was inadequate to keep up with the routines and maintenance needed to be carried out consistently.
All this being said, the EPA had decided to launch an investigation into the water crisis occurring.
“We’re going to be talking to as many people as we can and see what kind of work we can do,” said a spokesperson for the EPA’s Office of Inspector General Jennifer Kaplan to CBS News.
“It is all hands on deck,” said Kaplan.