Jackson, Mississippi, Water: Governor Tate Reeves will declare an emergency due to the failure of the city’s main water facility



CNN

Already dealing flooded streetsRain-battered Jackson, Mississippi residents now struggle with little to no water pressure in their homes after the city’s main water treatment facility failed on Monday, leaving them without enough water to flush toilets or fight fires, Governor Tate Reeves said.

The governor said he would declare a state of emergency for the state’s largest city and state officials are scrambling to start distributing water to 180,000 residents.

The city’s struggling water system was plagued with problems for years. In February 2021, a winter storm close Jackson’s entire water system, leaving tens of thousands of residents without water for a month amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Monday evening – as residents of Jackson faced record rain that led to the Pearl River Ridge at a dangerously high level – Reeves announced that the city was not producing running water.

“That means we don’t have reliable running water on a large scale. This means the city cannot produce enough water to fight fires, reliably flush toilets and meet other critical needs,” Reeves said.

As a result, officials announcement all Jackson public schools will transition to virtual learning on Tuesday.

The problem of water pressure adds to a boil water advisory in place for a month due to a water quality problem.

Authorities said the water was not safe to drink or use while brushing teeth.

“Please stay safe. Don’t drink the water. In too many cases, it’s raw water from the reservoir that’s being pushed down the pipes,” Reeves told Jackson residents. you protect your family.”

Residents are told to conserve the water resources they have and boil the water they use for three minutes.

The state should call in the National Guard to help distribute potable and non-potable water as crews work to get the water treatment plant back online, state officials said. State.

“Replacing our largest city’s running water infrastructure with human distribution is an extremely complicated logistical task,” Reeves said. “We have to provide it to 180,000 people for an indefinite period.”

In addition to preparing to distribute water to residents, state sets up water tanker system to deliver water to fire trucks as Jackson loses ability to draw water from hydrants fire, officials said.

The problem stems from one of the city’s two water treatment facilities, the OB Curtis plant, which is operated by the city of Jackson, according to the governor. “OB Curtis is not working at full capacity. And we may find out that tomorrow won’t work at all,” Reeves said.

OB Curtis is expected to supply around 50 million gallons daily to the city. The other plant, which typically supplies around 20 million gallons a day, was allowed to increase production despite the shortage, authorities said.

OB Curtis’ main pumps were badly damaged and the facility began operating with smaller standby pumps about a month ago, around the same time an extended boil water advisory started, the governor said.

The governor said he was told on Friday that “it was almost certain that Jackson would not be able to produce running water for the next few weeks or months if something did not materially improve,” said the governor.

Over the weekend, state officials began developing water distribution plans and “preparing for a scenario where Jackson would be without running water for an extended period of time.”

“It was all with the prayer that we would have more time before their system went down,” Reeves said. “Unfortunately, this failure seems to have started today.”

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba declared a water system emergency Monday, saying recent Pearl River flooding was the cause of the latest water pressure issues.

“While one crisis can be hijacked, another rears its ugly head,” Lumumba told a news conference after discussing the floods in the city.

The mayor said that with OB Curtis receiving additional water from the reservoir during the flood, the facility had to change the way it treats water, which resulted in less water being discharged into the system and a reduction in reservoir levels. This affects the water pressure in residents’ homes, he said.

“It’s no secret that we have a very fragile water treatment facility,” the mayor said, adding that the outage “could potentially last a few days.”

Jackson has had ongoing issues with its water system and some residents were already reporting low or no water pressure and raw sewage flowing through city streets and neighborhoods.

Lumumba previously told CNN a lack of political will and years of national neglect have prevented Jackson from getting the help he needs to solve his water and sewer crisis.

Apart from infrastructure issues, the plant has also faced personnel issues, according to the mayor and governor.

“Too few heroic frontline workers were doing their best to keep the system in place, but it was a near impossibility,” the governor said.

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