Jackson, Miss., residents travel to find clean water amid system problems

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 8:15 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT/Gray News) - The city has been under a boil water notice for more than a month. During that time, residents have had to boil their water before using it.

As a result, cases of bottled water have become hot commodities in Jackson. Residents lined up one by one at distribution sites trying to get their hands on a case.

“I’ve been in line maybe for almost an hour there are other things I could be doing,” said Patricia Watkins, who lives in Jackson.

Watkins was one of the hundreds in line. She said the water woes have caused a big inconvenience in her day-to-day routine.

She’s currently seeing low water pressure inside her South Jackson home.

“It’s been hard, especially when you have a family,” Watkins expressed. “Like right now, we just got one case. I mean, I am thankful, but you could have three or four or five people in your family,” Watkins said.

The latest round of water woes is due to a failure at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant, the city’s main treatment facility.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said Jackson’s water system is troubled by short staffing and “decades of deferred maintenance,” the Associated Press reported.

President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration request for the state of Mississippi on Tuesday, directing federal resources to the area.

Residents have been told their water isn’t safe to drink or give to their pets.

They’re also being told to only use bottled or boiled water just to brush their teeth.

However, some residents said they’ve been dealing with water woes in Jackson for decades.

“This has been an issue for me since I came down here to Tougaloo College in 1991, I was always told not to drink that water,” said Danyelle Holmes, who’s a national social justice organizer and a Jackson resident.

Holmes spent the day lending a hand at the different water giveaways, helping residents get safe drinkable water during the ongoing crisis.

She said she believes politics are being placed over people, which is contributing to this current problem.

She also said she believes Gov.Tate Reeves should’ve acted sooner to help fix this issue.

“If we were talking about Madison County or if we were talking about Rankin County, we would not see these issues,” Holmes said. “The extreme racist politics that are being played, placing politics before people, it has to stop, and it has to stop today. We have 175,000 residents or more who are impacted and lives are at jeopardy.”

There were two common sights at the bottled water giveaways: the first was hundreds of cars lining up to get the water, the second was many residents leaving empty-handed because the demand is so high that the cases of water ran out.

The water giveaways will take place all week.