Water Emergency In Mississippi As Pump Shuts Down
A man carries a case of water after receiving it at a water and food distribution drive held by College Hill Baptist Church and the World Central kitchen on March 07, 2021 in Jackson, Mississippi.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Government leaders in Jackson, Mississippi, have declared a water system emergency after a major pump at a water treatment facility was damaged.

The hindered water treatment facility could leave up to 180,000 people without reliable running water for fighting fires and flushing toilets, according to Republican Governor Tate Reeves on Monday, as the area deals with the aftermath of recent flooding across the central region of the state.

“The O.B. Curtis plant is not operating anywhere near full capacity,” Reeves said during an evening press conference, reported Mississippi Today. “We may find out tomorrow it’s not operating at all. We’ll have better visibility on that when we get in there tomorrow.”

The shortage could lead to widespread unmet needs across the area.

“Until it is fixed, it means we do not have reliable running water at scale,” Reeves said. “It means the city cannot produce enough water to fight fires, to reliably flush toilets, and to meet other critical needs.”

Reeves was made aware of the possible shutdown of the water pump on Friday, though the treatment plant was uncertain how much longer it could operate. The Monday announcement said the concern could last for “the next couple of days.”

State health officials are advising residents not to drink the city’s water or use it to brush their teeth until further notice. Water will not be cut off, but the shortage could cause disruptions until repairs are completed.

Jackson Public Schools (JPS) will not meet in person, with classes moving to virtual learning starting 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 JPS said.

The governor’s announcement also comes after Jackson Democrat Mayor Chokwe Lumumba declared a water emergency following the Pearl River flooding last week. The city remains under a water boil notice.

The Pearl River crested at more than 35 feet last week, though it avoided hitting the major flood stage level of 36 feet. Roads remain flooded across the area.

Reeves declared a state of emergency on Saturday for central parts of Mississippi that forced some residents to evacuate.

Water distribution sites are also continuing across Jackson, with two locations operating on Monday, according to the city’s Twitter account.

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