By Peter Chawaga
An ongoing drinking water crisis in Mississippi’s capital city has now warranted an emergency declaration and a wave of mainstream attention on all the things that have gone wrong.
“Some 180,000 residents in Jackson, Mississippi have ‘indefinitely’ lost access to reliable running water after excessive rainfall and flooding,” BBC reported late last week. “Rising floodwaters over the weekend breached the city’s main water treatment facility, bringing it to the brink of collapse. A state of emergency has been declared, and schools, restaurants and businesses have temporarily closed.”
Since then, water pressure has been restored in the city though a boil water advisory remains in place at the time of this writing. But even well before this state of emergency was declared, the drinking water in Jackson was plagued with problems rooted in outdated infrastructure and systemic neglect.
“Jackson has for years grappled with water system outages, accidents and equipment failure, problems city officials have blamed on crumbling infrastructure,” according to Politico. “Officials … pinned Jackson’s current water woes on a combination of flooding, shifting chemistry, long-standing infrastructure problems and staffing shortages, but they offered few details on when conditions would improve.”
Despite the years of neglect, federal officials appeared optimistic that they can end the drinking water emergency in Jackson and render the city capable of reliably providing this critical resource to consumers.
“The [U.S. EPA] said it’s coordinating with FEMA on immediate next steps and deploying a ‘subject matter expert’ to support the emergency assessment of the Jackson water treatment plants,” per Politico. “EPA also said it’s working to address supply chain issues to expedite delivery of equipment that will directly affect the water treatment’s ability to provide safe water.”
Perhaps this intervention will eventually solve Jackson’s long-standing drinking water problems as well.
To read more about the rules that govern drinking water quality in the U.S., visit Water Online’s Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.