Already dealing with flooded streets, residents of rain-battered Jackson, Mississippi, are now contending with little or no water pressure in their homes after the city’s main water treatment facility failed Monday, leaving them without enough water to flush toilets or fight fires, Gov. Tate Reeves said.
The governor said he will declare a state of emergency for the state’s largest city and state authorities are scrambling to begin distributing water to 180,000 residents. The city’s troubled water system has been plagued with issues for years. In February 2021, a winter storm shut down Jackson’s entire water system, leaving tens of thousands of residents without water for a month amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Monday evening — as Jackson residents were dealing with record-setting rain that resulted in the Pearl River cresting at a dangerously high level — Reeves announced the city is failing to produce running water. “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,” Reeves said.
As a result, officials announced all Jackson public schools will shift to virtual learning Tuesday. The water pressure issue is on top of a boil water notice in place for the past month due to a water quality problem. Authorities said the water is not safe to drink or use while brushing teeth.
“Please stay safe. Do not drink the water. In too many cases, it is raw water from the reservoir being pushed through the pipes,” Reeves told Jackson residents. “Be smart, protect yourself, protect your family.” Residents are being told to conserve the water resources they do have and boil any water they use for three minutes.
The state is expected to call in the national guard to help distribute drinking and non-drinking water as crews work to get the water treatment plant back online, state officials said. “Replacing our largest city’s infrastructure of running water with human distribution is a massively complicated logistical task,” Reeves said. “We need to provide it for up to 180,000 people for an unknown period of time.”
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