MississippiThe largest city in the United States has run out of water indefinitely, leaving 180,000 residents unable to drink from their faucets, flush toilets or shower
The ailing OB Curtis water plant in Jackson was taken offline after being overwhelmed by recent flooding that destroyed backup systems set up to relieve the older plant’s main treatment machinery.
Now the capital, home to 150,000 people, and 30,000 surrounding communities are under pressure to conserve their rations as officials begin distributing crates of bottled water in a “massively complicated logistical task”.
“The city cannot produce enough water to fight fires, reliably flush toilets and meet other critical needs,” Reeves said at a news conference Monday.
“Replacing our city’s major infrastructure of running water with human distribution is an enormously complicated logistical task. We need to provide it to up to 180,000 people for an indefinite period of time.’
The city of Jackson had previously received a water-boiling recommendation since July, when water quality began to decline.
Residents of the city of Jackson were advised to boil their water for one minute before using it for cooking, drinking, making ice cream, brushing teeth or washing dishes, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health and Human Services.
The repair of the water system can take up to four months.
Jackson, Mississippi ran out of water indefinitely, leaving about 180,000 residents without water. Now officers are scrambling to distribute boxes of bottled water to residents. Pictured: First responders and recruits in Jackson carry boxes of bottled water to vehicles August 18 amid water problems
Gov. Tate Reeves said the city had struggled with its water infrastructure for years, blaming poor maintenance for the lack of infrastructure. Pictured: Mississippi aquatic plant
Local residents must expect the waterworks to fail for days. It is unclear when the system will be up and running again
Gov. Reeves (above) announced Monday that there wasn’t enough water to “fight fires” or “flush toilets,” alongside “other critical needs.”
The waterworks was running at the edge of capacity and the motors powering the pumps recently failed along with the backup pumps on Monday, Reeves said.
“We were told on Friday that there is no way to predict exactly when, but that unless things improve significantly, it is almost certain that Jackson will start producing no water at some point in the next few weeks or months,” said Reeves.
Reeves began preparing for the water crisis over the weekend before the plant collapsed faster than expected.
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (above) blamed the water outage on recent flooding that hit the state last week
According to Reuters, state officials are trying to set up an incident command center at the plant on Tuesday in hopes of restarting operations.
“Until it’s fixed, that means we won’t have reliable running water on a large scale,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state will begin emergency repairs to quickly restore water output. It is unclear if the entire city is completely without water.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, meanwhile, said recent Mississippi flooding had put a strain on the city’s waterworks — although the governor blamed years of poor infrastructure for the emergency.
“The Pearl River is falling faster than expected,” Lumumba said. “It’s no secret to any of us that we have a very fragile water treatment plant.”
Crates of water bottles are being distributed to residents in an “extremely complicated logistical task”.
Central Mississippi struggled with flooding last week after a series of heavy rains in Jackson. A swollen Pearl River flooded streets and at least one home in Jackson on Monday.
The National Weather Service said the Pearl River peaked at about 35.4 feet. This is just before the big flood stage of 36 feet.
Public schools in the city announced Monday night they would switch to virtual learning indefinitely as water shortages continue, Mississippi said today.
Jackson has two water treatment plants, and the larger one is near a reservoir that provides most of the city’s water supply. The reservoir also plays a role in flood control.
The city has long had problems with its water system. A cold snap in 2021 left a significant number of people without running water after pipes froze. Similar issues resurfaced on a smaller scale earlier this year.
Two years ago, torrential rain caused the river to reach 36.7 feet and left Jackson’s homes in the hardest-hit neighborhoods filled with filthy, snake-infested floodwater.
Days of unrelenting rain in 2020 prompted evacuation orders as the Pearl River reached its third-highest crest on record. The area had not seen the river this high since 1983—37 years ago.
In Mississippi, the Pearl River reached its third-highest crest on record in 2020 at 36.7 feet