Jackson’s water crisis has become a national headline, and while many are looking for the federal government to step in and fix the problem, one Mississippi expert believes a long-term solution can be made at the local level.
Empower Mississippi President Russ Latino shares why it is important to understand where the issues relating to Jackson’s water crisis originated in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past while also finding a way to form a viable long-term solution that benefits everybody.
“To me, the importance of understanding the problem isn’t just so that we don’t repeat it. Designing a solution requires us to understand how we got there. This is not something that is a byproduct of flooding. Flooding is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Latino said in an interview on MidDays with Gerard Gibert. “This is a decades-in-the-making problem with deferred maintenance on a system. It’s a decades-in-the-making problem with failure to actually bill for water, which means there’s insufficient funds to maintain the system.”
Latino acknowledged that the issue plaguing the O.B. Curtis water system is not native to Jackson alone. Rather, it is a regional one that impacts Byram and other areas. He believes that a solution involving a regional utility management team would be the most efficient way to tackle future issues with the water system.
“If business goes out of Jackson, then employment goes out of Jackson and your tax base gets smaller and smaller. So your ability to actually address these things gets harder and harder,” Latino said adding, “We need to be committed to a strong Jackson. That’s not a white versus Black thing. It’s not a Republican versus Democrat thing. The state needs a strong capital city.”
The Empower Mississippi president deems it unnecessary for the matter to be polarized because the lack of clean drinking water in Jackson negatively impacts people of different races and political ideologies.
The full interview with Empower Mississippi President Russ Latino can be watched below.