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Jackson City Council approves application for water infrastructure improvement grant

Image courtesy of the City of Jackson

The Jackson City Council has approved an application that would bring $9.6 million in grant funding to make improvements to the city’s water infrastructure.

On Tuesday, the council voted 6-0 for the allocation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant funding, with Ward 5 Councilman Vernon Hartley abstaining.

If approved, the funds would be used to build a new water treatment plant or refurbish the existing O.B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell water treatment facilities. In total, more than $13.7 million would be needed to complete the projects, meaning that the city would be required to provide $4 million more in funding.

According to Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, who stated his support regarding the use of the FEMA grant funds, pressed the council to approve the BRIC application as it is a “highly competitive grant.”

“There is expectation from the federal government that we’re going after this, as we are for other available funds. This is a part of, you know, part and parcel of the discussion with the federal government about the opportunities we’re going off there,” Lumumba explained. “I think it will send a message to the things that we’re requesting they do, apart from the already competitive grants, if we don’t make an effort to do this.”

Ted Henifin, the recently appointed interim third party manager of Jackson’s water system, will be in control of the funds if they are awarded to the city.

Lumumba expressed his approval of Henifin’s appointment following last week’s announcement of the new  “proposed stipulated order.” The order is meant to serve as an interim measure while negotiations between the United States, the city, and MSDH to bring the water system into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) transpire.

“We have enjoyed building a working relationship with him since the start of the emergency. Mr. Henifin has been instrumental in lending his expertise to our recovery thus far,” Lumumba said. “This agreement allows us to work collaboratively with someone we trust to make smart choices for the city’s drinking water system and ensure that we can provide safe, clean and sustainable drinking water for all.”

Jackson, MSDH agree to appoint interim third-party manager for water system

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