Water Woes Mississippi

This is an aerial view of of the city of Jackson's O.B. Curtis Water Plant in Ridgeland, Miss., on Sept. 1, 2022. 

(The Center Square) – The Jackson water crisis is over.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves issued an executive order late Tuesday that officially puts an end to the crisis which began on Aug. 30. The order affects Hinds County and surrounding areas that receive water from the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant.

The order, according to the release, went into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

“I’m incredibly thankful to the folks at the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi State Department of Health, and the Mississippi National Guard who worked tirelessly to restore clean water to the residents of Jackson and respond to this emergency situation,” Reeves said in a release. “They have made countless repairs, brought in new equipment, and done heroic work.”

In the release, Reeves took aim at the city of Jackson’s “refusal to hire routine maintenance staff” at the plant.

“That cannot constitute a state emergency,” the governor said. “We need new leadership at the helm so that this crisis of incompetence cannot continue.”

Reeves statement about leadership in the state’s capital city comes one month following dueling statements from the governor and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba over issues at the plant.

The mayor refuted a statement made by Reeves on Oct. 17 that the city planned to remove itself from an agreement to work with state and federal officials in selecting a new water operator at the plant.

Reeves said the federal government continues to keep an eye trained on the water situation.

“It is also clear that the federal government is working to ensure that Jackson political leadership does not have the authority to mismanage the water system any further,” Reeves said. “That process needs to be completed, and it needs to be completed quickly. As the justification for an emergency under state statute no longer exists and in order for that momentum to continue, we need to stick with our deadline to end our State of Emergency and our operating of the city’s water system for them. I am hopeful that the federal government’s efforts to take control away from incompetent hands will wrap up swiftly.”

On Aug. 30, two primary raw water pumps at the plant had been removed for repairs and were out of commission, and that was combined with a nearly month-long boil water notice for users of the system.

According to the executive order, water pressure had been returned to the city in less than 72 hours following the disaster declaration. The boil water notice was then lifted less than 15 day later.

The Environmental Protection Agency, according to the release, has declared water from the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant and J.H. Fewell Water Treatment Plant are now safe to drink.

Additionally, Jackson City Council, according to the release, has ratified unanimously an agreement with the federal governor for placing a third-party administrator to operate the water system.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.