Boil water advisory lifted for Jackson, Mississippi, after more than 40 days



CNN

The boil water advisory in Jackson, Mississippi, has been lifted for anyone dependent on the water system, Governor Tate Reeves said at a press conference Thursday.

“On Tuesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health officially began conducting water quality testing. They collected 120 samples for two consecutive days. We can now report that we have restored potable water to the City of Jackson,” Reeves said.

It’s been more than 40 days since the Mississippi Department of Health put the state capitol under a boil water advisory in July, contributing to the ongoing water crisis in Jackson that has been compounded by heavy rains in August. Weather conditions and ongoing problems with a failing city water plant ultimately prevented residents from using or drinking water for weeks.

“While we have restored water quality, the system is still flawed and we will address issues throughout the state’s response,” he said.

Reeves said there may be further disruptions to the city’s water system.

The boil water advisory issued at the end of July meant that tap water had to be boiled before being used for drinking, cooking, making ice, washing dishes or brushing teeth.

It was released after cloudy water at the OB Curtis plant was blamed on high levels of the mineral manganese, “combined with the use of lime”, the city said.

The acute crisis began when heavy rain caused the Pearl River to flood, affecting treatment processes after pumps at the main water treatment plant had already been damaged. Residents had to queue for hours to get crates of water for drinking, cooking and even flushing the toilet.

The US Environmental Protection Agency said it was investigating the crisis.

“I can confirm that the EPA Inspector General’s Office has begun sending personnel to Jackson to collect data and conduct interviews,” office spokeswoman Jennifer Kaplan told CNN on Sunday. Similar investigations into the tainted water crisis in Flint, Michigan have led to criminal charges and a slew of lawsuits.

Jackson’s water issues go back years, with boil water advisories becoming a near reality in the Mississippi capital. In early 2020, the system failed an EPA inspection, which found drinking water had the potential to harbor harmful bacteria or parasites.

The city’s water problems are largely systemic and include old and leaky pipes, malfunctioning treatment plants and insufficient funds to fix the problems, according to a report from the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting that the newspaper Clarion Ledger released in January.

Plant staffing was also an issue. EPA staff discovered during a visit in March that the city did not have adequate personnel for the system, which prevented routine and preventative maintenance from being performed.


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