Jackson, MS Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (D) declared a local state of emergency after cold weather damaged the city’s water system last week.
Saying that Jackson is dealing with a “worst case scenario, the Mayor issued a boil-water advisory on Christmas Day until further notice because of the broken system.
City officials say the water system lost pressure because of undetectable breaks in the distribution system, causing parts of Jackson to experience little or no water pressure.
The location of the leak “is totally invisible, it would appear, so we’re really struggling,” Ted Henifin told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
Jackson has long struggled with water problems, and Henifin is a water expert who was appointed by the Department of Justice this past fall to oversee improvements after a systemic breakdown in 2021 and a treatment-plant failure this past August left Jackson residents without water for weeks at a time.
The appointment of Henifin was part of an agreement reached between the city of Jackson and the DOJ to try to ensure the city’s water is safe to drink.
Mayor Lumumba was unclear about whether the current system breakdown posed a risk to residents. He said the emergency declaration was a technicality based on EPA rules that require boil-water notices whenever water pressure drops to a certain level.
On Tuesday, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) also declared a state of emergency and activated the Mississippi Guard.
“The state is marshaling tremendous resources to protect the people of our capital city,” Reeves said in a statement. “It will take time for that to come to fruition. But we are here in times of crisis, for anyone in the state who needs it.” Reeves said the state was prepared to distribute water from alternative sources for “as long as we have to.”