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Water Crisis in Mississippi Shuts Down City

Written by Zamena Manekia Manji, Anchored and Produced by Fatima El-Zein

A state of emergency was declared after rain and heavy floods left Mississippi’s largest city without clean running water, what some suggest long-time coming due to racist disinvestment policies and poor infrastructure.


Mississippi’s capital city, Jackson, is facing a historic water crisis after its main water facility failed due to a recent flooding. 200,000 people are left without safe, running water indefinitely. Stores are out of running water, restaurants remain closed and schools have moved to virtual learning systems. While the crisis comes as a shock for those in the United States, residents tell a different story, a story that depicts historical and racist disinvestment in the majority-Black city. 

With TMJ News, this is Fatima El Zein and you’re watching the latest headline.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced at a conference that Jackson city water pressure is restored. The governor said while there may be more bad days in the future the people in Jackson can trust that water will come out of the faucet. 

This came a few days after US President Joe Biden’s administration declared a state of emergency regarding the intense water crisis in the State of Mississippi and ordered Federal assistance to supplement the state’s response.

The Biden administration ordered the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to organize all disaster relief efforts in the state.

The water crises spiraled out of control after a lengthy troubled main treatment plant broke down, cutting off most of the state’s water supply. People were left without safe running water for days at a stretch. The community’s 180,000 plus people were asked to refrain from drinking tap water.  

Tankers distributed non-potable water and bottled drinking water was distributed at several sites, the city said. The breakdown occurred Monday when floodwaters seeped into an understaffed and poorly maintained treatment plant.

Schools and businesses shut down and students were forced to study online, as they did during the pandemic. 

“It’s a hurtful feeling when you don’t have any water, especially when you’ve got newborn babies,” said Monica Lashay Bass, a mother of three, as she queued in her car for her allotment of bottled water. 

However, the residents of Jackson, Mississippi, have suffered for a long time from frequent water supply cuts. Jackson’s residents also comprise more than 80% African-Americans, and the constant delay and carelessness by the country raises concerns about racism still being prevalent in the American society.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the Mississippi water crisis accumulated problems on deferred maintenance.

He said, in quote, “maintenance has not taken place in over decades” for the water treatment systems which were damaged in historic floods that left 180,000 people without safe drinking water.

The governor has alleged the water treatment plant suffered from years of city mismanagement, while the mayor accused the state of being absent from efforts to maintain and update the plant.

The governor claimed that the water treatment plant was mismanaged but the mayor blatantly accused the state for being negligent in order to maintain and update the plant.

Marshall, A 70-year-old resident of Jackson used to drink tap water despite being told to avoid it. He said the water is brown and has been that way for eight months. The old man doesn’t own a car and cannot go to the sites where water is provided by the national guard. He has no electricity nor gas due to a recent fire nearby.

On Sunday September 4th, water pressure levels exceeded the goal, reaching 90 PSI, and on Monday the city said the total plant output is currently meeting the goal of 87 PSI.

But the Jackson residents are still under a boil-water advisory, the city said and they can only lift the advisory if the officials get two rounds of clear samples from the water. 

The city has been under a boil water advisory since July 30, due to a high level of manganese combined with the use of lime at the O.B. Curtis plant in nearby Ridgeland, the city said.

The main pumps at the water treatment plant have been badly damaged since late July, compelling the facility to operate on smaller backup pumps.  

On Monday, September 4th, Reeves cautioned the water system still had many problems.

“This system broke over several years and it would be inaccurate to claim it is totally solved in a matter of less than a week,” Reeves said.

The state of Mississippi has failed to fund infrastructure assistance to Jackson and enacted a $524 million income-tax break that has constrained the state budget including for infrastructure. 

Jackson Mayor Lumumba estimates the cost to repair the infrastructure systems is nearly $2 billion, while new federal infrastructure dollars to the state total $75 million. 

While the crisis in Mississippi continues, President Biden’s administration is asking Congress to provide $13.7 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine, which is in addition to the $40 billion that was approved earlier this year.



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  • Fatima El-Zein

    Fatima El-Zein is Lead Producer at TMJ News where she aims to bring more awareness about her community through storytelling. El-Zein grew up in Toronto, where she completed her undergraduate degree in Journalism at the University of Toronto and also received a diploma in Journalism from Centennial College. She has worked extensively for CBC News before moving to the United States.

  • Zamena Manekia Manji

    Zamena Manekia Manji is a breaking news writer for TMJ News with experience of over 10 years in the field. Her areas of focus are important breaking stories in North America specifically untold stories from a minority lens.

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