Multiple water pumps at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant failed earlier this week after severe storms caused the Pearl River to flood, prompting low water pressure and a risk of bacterial infection, according to a press release from the Mississippi Department of Health. Federal and state officials — including President Joe Biden, Governor Tate Reeves (R-MS), and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (D-MS) — have issued emergency declarations.
“We have officially launched seven state-run water distribution sites around the impacted area of this crisis,” Reeves said in a Friday statement. “These sites will be well-stocked, well-staffed, and well-prepared to handle the continued emergency of the coming days.”
On Thursday morning, the city of Jackson announced that “over half of the tanks on the surface system have begun filling back up,” providing “some pressure” to many residents. Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are aiding the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency — which has warned residents to refrain from drinking the tap water — with repairs as Jackson endures its fifth day without water resources.
Jackson’s water supply has faced multiple interruptions over the past several decades. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of noncompliance to city leadership for not “repairing and maintaining equipment necessary to reliably produce drinking water.”
Jeff Good — a member of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership’s executive committee and the co-owner of three restaurants in the heart of Jackson — told The Daily Wire that he has filed three insurance claims over the course of 28 years due to business interruptions arising from the city’s water system.
“I’m in that world of business, and I see the pains and challenges we have. We’re trying to bring industry to our town,” he remarked. “A failing infrastructure is a very hard thing to sell a new factory or restaurant on.”
Good attributed inaction on fixing the city’s water system to political turmoil in Jackson, which has seen eight mayors since 1997, as well as an overall decline in the city’s economy. The population of Jackson declined from roughly 174,000 residents in 2010 to 154,000 residents in 2020, according to data from the Census Bureau.
Two of Good’s restaurants were closed for 21 days during the winter freeze that impacted much of the southern United States in 2021. “Hopefully, this will not become that same thing because the state stepped in,” he remarked. “The scary thing is to think about it being that long again … What does that say to the insurance companies? How hard do you think it is for me to get that business interruption insurance?”
Meanwhile, Jackson Public Schools moved to virtual instruction on Tuesday. “We will continue to closely monitor the water conditions on a day-by-day basis at our schools while conferring with city officials to determine when scholars and staff can safely return for in-person learning,” a statement from the school system said.
The Daily Wire reached out to the office of Governor Reeves for comment; no response was received in time for publication.