Home - Breaking News, Events, Things-To-Do, Dining, Nightlife


EPA absolves MDEQ, Health Department of discrimination in funding Jackson water

About a year and half ago, on the heels of Jackson’s infamous water system failure, advocates and politicians from Mississippi began publicly questioning the funding mechanisms that are supposed to support such systems.

In October 2022, U.S. Reps. Bennie Thompson and Carolyn Maloney wrote Gov. Tate Reeves, grilling him over an apparent disparity in how federal infrastructure funds were allocated to Jackson versus other parts of the state.

Then days later, the Environmental Protection Agency’s civil rights office opened an investigation into two state agencies — the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Department of Health — in response to the NAACP’s claims of discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI prohibits discrimination — based on race, color or national origin — in providing federal assistance.

On Monday, though, the EPA announced it had ended the probe after finding no evidence the agencies had short-changed Jackson’s water system. In its investigation, the EPA looked at the funding amounts and racial demographics of cities that received water funding from MDEQ and the Health Department and determined there was no correlation between the two factors.

A scatter plot from the EPA’s analysis comparing the levels of funding cities received with their percent of Black residents.

“The evidence overwhelmingly shows that the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality did everything right,” MDEQ Executive Director Chris Wells said in a press release following the EPA’s announcement.

The two agencies are in charge of disbursing funds from the EPA called “state revolving loan,” or SRF, funds, which are meant to help cities make infrastructure improvements. MDEQ handles SRF funds related to wastewater infrastructure, while the Health Department handles SRF funds for drinking water.

But the claims against the agencies were only part of the 2022 complaint the NAACP filed with the EPA. The federal agency did not address another complaint: The group also focused on the state Legislature, which has denied attempts in recent years by Jackson to raise money for its water system, such as creating a new 1% tax.

Click here for the EPA’s full responses to MDEQ and Health Department.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

Local Dining Stream

Things To Do

Related articles