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Jackson Water Crisis: Mayor Considering Whether New Treatment Plant Needed

JACKSON, Miss.—Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba shared tables outlining needs at the capital city’s water-treatment plants, totalling $35.6 million at a town hall in College Hill Missionary Baptist Church last night. The city has been under a boil-water notice for more than six weeks due to turbidity issues at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment plant, then followed by a city-wide drop in water pressure due to flooding of the Pearl River that created treatment challenges at the facility it feeds.

Lumumba said the problems affecting the water-treatment plants in the city are decades in the making. “I remember in 1989, a big freeze that came over the city at that time and debilitated our water system,” he told the people gathered at the church. “I remember being without water for some time.”

“Some of you I’ve heard talk further back than that, and so this is something that unfortunately has become a way of life in Jackson, and one that we should not continue to be comfortable with or to continue to just say that that’s what it is to live in Jackson.”

Based on the undated charts the mayor shared at the event, the administration showed that the O. B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant requires more than $20 million to fix priority needs. The significant expenses are structural crack repair and lining of conventional sedimentary basins ($3 million), a plant generator ($7 million) and lime-sludge removal ($ 2 million). The administration is saying that the other water-treatment facility in the city—J.H. Fewell—needs $15 million, with filter repairs requiring $3.5 million, lime-sludge removal $2 million and a plant generator for $3 million.

A cross-section of people gathered at the College Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., on Sept. 13, 2022, for Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba’s town hall on water challenges. Photo by Kayode Crown

Since President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the water-treatment facility on Aug. 30, 2022, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will now fund needed urgent repairs and deploy human resources to the facility for 90 days. On Sept. 12, Gov. Tate Reeves asked the Small

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