Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell joined Governor Tate Reeves and other leaders on Friday to give an update on what is being done in Jackson to make progress with the water crisis.
Criswell said that she was able to speak with leaders such as Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, members of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the ongoing water issues Jackson residents are facing. She was also able to tour the O.B. Curtis plant.
“Our top priority today and tomorrow and in the very near future is to make sure that we are getting help to those who need it most,” Criswell said. “What I saw here today is one team — one team of local, state, and federal government working together to make sure that we are addressing these needs.”
MEMA Director Stephen McCraney says that there is an opportunity, with direct federal assistance, to have Jackson’s water treatment facilities better suited to face disasters such as flooding and even cold weather.
“Every day, grants from other agencies — the EPA, the Corps of Engineers — they’re working on projects.” McCraney added. “It’s kind of like lacing up your shoes. You start at the bottom and you just keep lacing this program that can do one thing and another program on top of the other, and we’re going to stack them on top of each other as we get to the top.”
According to McCraney, the National Guard has handed out nearly three million bottles of water to Jackson residents within the past 24 hours.
A Friday press release from the city of Jackson claims that the O.B. Curtis Water Plant made significant gains on Thursday night and Friday morning. The total plant output has increased to 80 PSI. The ideal pressure level is 87 PSI. This ensures enough water pressure to adequately supply the entire system.
Jim Craig with the Mississippi State Department of Health stated that while progress has been made, a chemical imbalance in the water slowed down production on Friday afternoon.
Governor Reeves was unable to give a specific timetable for when there should be clean water in the capital city, but he said that the state’s short-term goal is to produce clean drinking water through Jackson’s systems. As of now, Reeves is still urging Jackson residents to boil their water before consuming it.