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Jackson Public Water System to receive $115M for infrastructure improvements

O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant (Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News)

Mississippi’s capital city is set to receive $115 million in funding to support critical water infrastructure investments that will help ensure safe and reliable drinking water for residents.

The funding — which comes from $600 million in appropriated funds under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, or bipartisan 2023 federal budget — will be distributed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for changes to be made to Jackson’s overall water system.

The improvements include identifying and fixing leaks in the distribution system, developing a system-wide assessment of valves and hydrants, ensuring adequate pumping capacity to maintain water pressure and distribution, and developing a system stabilization and sustainability plan.

“I’ve seen firsthand the water infrastructure challenges they’ve endured for far too long,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said. “These funds will help stabilize and rebuild the city’s water system and make significant strides to provide reliable water service to people’s homes, schools, and businesses. As I’ve said since the onset of this crisis, we will continue to stand with the people of Jackson and work to resolve this longstanding issue together.”

Less than one year has passed since the sudden influx of rainfall caused Jackson’s public water system to lack sufficient pressure throughout the city, leaving around 150,000 residents without drinkable water for 48 days.

Within that period of time, multiple federal, state, and local partners helped restore water pressure and repair equipment at Jackson’s two water treatment facilities, but city officials stated that staffing shortages, operations, maintenance issues, and infrastructure repairs still needed to be addressed.

Several months later, a severe cold snap reduced ambient temperatures to well below freezing for 48 hours, once again leaving thousands of residents without water in late December.

At this time, there continues to be an imminent danger that the system could fail again and return to boil water notice without improved management, operation, and maintenance of the system.

In addition to the appropriated funds, the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in additional financial support to support water infrastructure upgrades.

“This historic funding will impact the residents of Jackson in unprecedented ways,” Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said. “These funds will help provide relief to Jackson residents, who have suffered decades of water insecurity. This aid helps to restore dignity to our city.”

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