- The main water treatment facility in Jackson, Mississippi, began to catastrophically fail on Monday.
- Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency Tuesday and requested federal assistance.
- Jackson’s 140,000 residents will be without safe drinking water for an indefinite period of time.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency on Tuesday after Jackson’s main water treatment facility began to fail, leaving the city without enough water pressure to flush toilets and meet other critical needs.
Jackson is Mississippi’s largest city and capital, with a population of more than 140,000 people. More than 82% of residents are Black, according to the US Census Bureau.
The main water treatment facility at the O.B. Curtis Water Plant began failing on Monday after excessive rainfall caused the Pearl River to start flooding parts of the city.
—msema (@MSEMA) August 29, 2022
Jackson had already been under a boil water notice from the Mississippi State Department of Health for a month when the water system started to fail.
“Please stay safe. Do not drink the water. In too many cases, it is raw water from the reservoir being pushed through the pipes,” Reeves said in a press release on Tuesday. “Be smart, protect yourself, protect your family.”
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said on Twitter that it is his understanding that the water and sewer systems are “on the brink of collapsing.”
All schools in the Jackson Public School district transitioned to virtual learning on Tuesday, the district said on its website.
Five state senators from Jackson also sent Reeves a letter requesting he call a special senate session to address the water crisis, Mississippi Today reported.
“The people of Jackson, Byram, Ridgeland, and Hinds County are in day 32 of a boil-water notice,” the letter said. “Water pressure issues are shutting down schools, businesses and government offices. Raw sewage discharge has closed the Pearl River. We need to act now.”
—msema (@MSEMA) August 30, 2022
Reeves said in the press release that he had declared a state of emergency to address the water crisis and activated Mississippi’s national guard. Reeves’s office did not immediately return Insider’s request for further comment.
Reeves’s emergency declaration follows a previous emergency declaration on Monday by Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. The city said in a news release that “the water shortage is likely to last the next couple of days.”
Reeves said the Mississippi Department of Emergency Management would be delivering drinking and non-drinking water to Jackson residents “for an unknown period of time.”
The governor said the state is “cash flowing” emergency maintenance, repairs, and improvements on the city’s water treatment facility to get it back to fully operational as quickly as possible.
“The state is marshaling tremendous resources to protect the people of our capital city,” Reeves said in the release. “It will take time for that to come to fruition. But we are here in times of crisis, for anyone who needs it.”
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