It's been 5 days without reliable tap water for Jackson, Mississippi. Here's what we know about the latest repairs -- and how people are coping (2022)

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It's been 5 days without reliable tap water for Jackson, Mississippi. Here's what we know about the latest repairs -- and how people are coping (1)

It's been 5 days without reliable tap water for Jackson, Mississippi. Here's what we know about the latest repairs -- and how people are coping (2)

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Mom and son share videos of daily life with no clean water in Jackson, Mississippi 01:56

(CNN)Mississippi's capital has been without reliable tap water service since Monday, when rainwater flooding helped push an already-hobbled treatment plant to begin failing.

Significant gains have been made to restart the system, officials have said, but when potable water will flow again to Jackson's roughly 150,000 residents -- who for weeks already had been under a boil-water alert -- remains an open question.

Until then, families and businesses are forced to buy water or rely on an inefficient system of bottled water pick-up sites for water to drink, cook and brush teeth.

Here's how the latest chapter in the city's water disaster has unfolded:

What is the latest news?

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Efforts to continue to bring a vital water treatment plant fully online and restore clean drinking water to the city experienced complications Friday, Jim Craig, director of health protection at the Mississippi Department of Health, told reporters.

One of the issues was a chemical imbalance Friday afternoon that prompted officials to shut down the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant for a few hours.

"It's like fixing the airplane while you're still flying. You have to be very careful how you fix it so that you stay flying," he said. "It's the same thing as we're trying to produce water. All that water demand needs to continue to occur, and every time we have to do some maintenance then we have to offset some of that."

Workers at seven state-run distribution centers have handed out almost 2.8 million bottles of water over a period of about 24 hours, Gov. Tate Reeves said.

Earlier, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said at a news conference the city has had "two consecutive days of gains." Lumumba said the signs of recovery don't "mean by any stretch that all residents have pressure or water."

Tea leaves unread: Jackson's water crisis follows years of economic decline

One of the challenges as the city reestablishes water pressure is the possibility of pipes bursting.

"We know that we have brittle pipes, we have aged pipes, just as our water treatment facilities are aged," he said.

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The mayor also explained the process before the boil water notice can be lifted, saying, "Once pressure is restored to all residents, then the next stage of that process is that the health department gives the OK, gives the go ahead to start the testing process.

"Once that testing process begins, there are about 120 sites that they begin to take samples from, and you have to have two consecutive days of clear samples before the boil water notice can be lifted."

What led to this week's outage

The main pumps at Jackson's O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant around late July were severely damaged, forcing the facility to operate on smaller backup pumps, the governor said this week, without elaborating on the damage, which city officials also have not detailed.

The city announced August 9 the troubled pumps were being pulled offline.

Then last week, the governor was warned Jackson would soon fail to produce running water, Reeves said.

And then came the flooding: Heavy rains last week pushed the Pearl River to overflow, cresting Monday, and to flood some Jackson streets -- while also impacting intake water at a reservoir that feeds the drinking water treatment plant.

A chemical imbalance was created on the conventional treatment side of the plant, Craig said Wednesday.

It affected particulate removal, causing a side of the plant to be temporarily shut down and resulting in a loss of water distribution pressure, he said.

Staffing problems have further complicated matters, officials said.

It's been 5 days without reliable tap water for Jackson, Mississippi. Here's what we know about the latest repairs -- and how people are coping (4)

A tanker leaves O.B. Curtis Water Plant on Wednesday.

What needs to be done to fix it

A temporary rented pump was installed Wednesday at the plant, and "significant" gains were made by Thursday, the city said, with workers making a "series of repairs and equipment adjustments."

As of Thursday, water pressure had been restored to some residents, with those close to the plant having almost normal pressure, the city said. Those farther away and at higher elevations still had little to no pressure.

On Friday, the pumping pressure at the Curtis treatment plant fell from 85 pounds per square inch to 77.2, Craig said.

Jackson, MS is in the midst of a water crisis. Here's how you can help

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A boil-water advisory went into effect in late July -- well before Monday's service disruptions -- after cloudy water at the O.B. Curtis plant was blamed on high levels of the mineral manganese, "combined with the use of lime," the city said. That order has yet to be lifted.

Contractors also were making assessments Thursday, according to the city update, and the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers were at the site.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell in Jackson on Friday. President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the city, and it will allow Mississippi to tap into critical resources to respond to the crisis, Reeves said.

How people are coping without running water

Residents have understandably been angry and frustrated, with no water to drink or brush their teeth or, in many cases, even flush toilets.

Some waited hours in long lines this week for a case of bottled water, only to be turned away when the supply ran out.

Jeraldine Watts, 86, was in a line that stretched for 2 miles, she told CNN.

Watts, who was born and raised in Jackson and lives with her daughter and granddaughter, said they have to use bottled or boiled water for everything -- even to cook and wash dishes.

'Water is a human right': City of Jackson still in dire need of infrastructure help to fight water crisis

"We are constantly paying water bills, and we can't use the water," Jackson resident Corean Wheeler said. "We feel like we are living in a third world country in America, and that's kind of bad."

Schools switched to virtual learning as of Tuesday, and a medical center was without air conditioning because of a lack of water pressure to feed its chillers, the University of Mississippi Medical Center said Tuesday.

The governor declared an emergency, and the National Guard was deployed to help distribute water. On Thursday, the state opened seven distribution sites, adding to those operated by the city.

Residents who were getting discolored water from their taps were told it should be used for showering or washing hands only and not for drinking or cooking.

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"Please make sure in the shower that your mouth is not open," Craig told residents.

City water system problems go back years

An unreliable water supply is nothing new to Jacksonians. The city's water system in early 2020 failed an Environmental Protection Agency inspection, which found the drinking water had the potential to be host to harmful bacteria or parasites.

Residents were without water for a month when pipes froze and burst during a 2021 winter storm. And the late July boil-water advisory remains in effect.

The problems are largely systemic -- old and leaky pipes, malfunctions at treatment plants and insufficient money to fix the problems, according to a report by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting that the Clarion Ledger published in January.

Staffing at the plant also has been a problem, according to Reeves and the mayor.

Tea leaves unread: Jackson's water crisis follows years of economic decline

"This is something that has been occurring for years, but sometimes it takes these catastrophes to make sure that this disaster comes to light," Mississippi state Rep. Ronnie Crudup Jr., of Jackson, told CNN this week.

The EPA and the city entered into an agreement last year to address "long-term challenges and make needed improvements to the drinking water system." And that agency recently announced $74.9 million in federal water and sewer infrastructure funds for Mississippi, though $2 billion is needed for the work, the mayor has said.

Advocates have pointed to systemic and environmental racism as among the causes of Jackson's ongoing water issues and lack of resources to address them. About 82.5% of Jackson's population identifies as Black or African American, according to census data.

Cities like Jackson suffer the "benign neglect" of those in power, Catherine Coleman Flowers, founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, told CNN in April. "I am concerned that it's just another symbol of what I call one of the relatives of the Confederacy where communities that need help are not given the help, especially if they're marginalized or communities of color."

CNN's Jamiel Lynch, Nouran Salahieh, Jason Hanna, Amir Vera, Amy Simonson, Melissa Alonso, Amara Walker, Amanda Musa, Maria Cartaya, Sara Smart, Caroll Alvarado, Peter Nickeas and Isabel Rosales contributed to this report.

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FAQs

What caused the water problem in Jackson Mississippi? ›

The intersection of two disasters – infrastructure failure and river flooding – exacerbated a pre-existing water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi. In mid-to-late August 2022, heavy rains led to flooding along the Pearl River watershed.

Can you drink tap water in Jackson Mississippi? ›

Released on September 19, 2022. Water from this system is now safe to drink. The City of Jackson's boil-water notice has been lifted after testing by the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Has water been restored in Jackson MS? ›

Water pressure has been restored in Jackson, Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves and the city government said.

Is there lead in Jackson MS water? ›

Between 2015 and 2021, the city of Jackson sampled its water for lead more than 1,300 times. Two-thirds of those samples contained lead.

How to help Jackson, Mississippi water crisis? ›

To volunteer, email rapidresponse@peoplesadvocacyinstitute.com. The Mississippi Food Network is accepting donations online in an effort to provide residents and families with food and water. To donate, click here. Cooperation Jackson is a mutual-aid group working to provide access to clean water.

What state ran out of water? ›

Jackson, Mississippi, water: The water crisis has gotten so bad, the city temporarily ran out of water to give to residents | CNN.

What percentage of Jackson Mississippi is black? ›

Black or African American: 82.47% White: 16.19% Two or more races: 0.70% Asian: 0.33%

Has the boil water notice been lifted in Jackson MS? ›

A trickle of water comes out of the faucet in a Senior Living apartment in Jackson, Miss., earlier this month. A recent flood worsened Jackson's longstanding water system problems.

Who runs Jackson Mississippi? ›

Chokwe Antar Lumumba (born March 29, 1983) is an American attorney, activist, and politician serving as the 53rd mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, the 7th consecutive African-American to hold the position. He was first elected in 2017.

Is there lead in water? ›

The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets, and plumbing fixtures. Certain pipes that carry drinking water from the water source to the home may contain lead. Household plumbing fixtures, welding solder, and pipe fittings made prior to 1986 may also contain lead.

When were lead pipes used in houses? ›

If your house was built before 1986, your plumbing may have lead solder.

Can you take a shower in contaminated water? ›

Is potentially contaminated water safe for bathing and shaving? The water may be used for showering, baths, shaving and washing, as long as it is not swallowed or gets in the eyes, nose or mouth. Children and individuals with disabilities should have their bath supervised to ensure water is not swallowed.

Is tap water safe to drink? ›

In most parts of the United States and Canada, it's safe to drink tap water from public water systems. Tap water that's been properly filtered is equally safe as bottled water and provides you with essential minerals you may not get from bottled water.

Is Pearl MS water safe to drink? ›

For the latest quarter assessed by the U.S. EPA (January 2021 - March 2021), tap water provided by this water utility was in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards.

How can I help Jackson Mississippi? ›

Where to Donate to Help the Residents of Jackson, Mississippi Right Now
  1. Cooperation Jackson.
  2. Immigrant Alliance For Justice & Equity.
  3. Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund.
  4. Mississippi Food Network.
  5. Operation Good.
14 Sept 2022

How to donate water to Jackson? ›

Cooperation Jackson

It is accepting donations online. You can also donate water by contacting the network at cooperationjackson@gmail.com or 601-355-7224.

Which state is most likely to have water shortage problems? ›

New Mexico tops the list and is the only state with “extremely high” pressures on its water availability. The state's score is on par with the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East and Eritrea in Africa, the World Resources Institute (WRI) found. California ranks second, followed by Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska.

What state has the worst drought? ›

The most severe drought conditions are in the Western part of the country in states like Texas, California and Arizona, where the extreme heat and lack of rainfall has caused water levels at Lake Mead to recede so much at least two human skeletons and a sunken WW2 era vessel have been found in parts of the now-exposed ...

What is the whitest county in Mississippi? ›

Mississippi White Population Percentage by County
CountyValue
Lowndes52.8
Madison57.6
Marion66.4
Marshall50.7
78 more rows

Is Jackson Mississippi mostly Black? ›

African Americans are a majority in the city of Jackson, although the metropolitan area is majority white. African Americans are also a majority in several cities and counties of the Mississippi Delta, which are included in the 2nd congressional district.

What city has most black population? ›

In 2020, the largest cities which had a Black majority were Detroit, Michigan (population 639K), Memphis, Tennessee (population 633K), Baltimore, Maryland (population 534K), New Orleans, Louisiana (population 384K), and Cleveland, Ohio (population 373K).

Can you wash your hands during a boil water advisory? ›

In many cases, you can use tap water and soap to wash hands during a boil water advisory. Follow the guidance from your local public health officials. Be sure to scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Then, rinse them well under running water.

Can you take a bath during a boil water notice? ›

You can continue to use tap water for bathing, showering, washing dishes and clothes during a Boil Water Advisory, as long as you take precautions that no one drinks it. Toddlers and young children are most at risk of accidental ingestion during bathing, so need to be watched carefully.

How many minutes should you boil water for drinking? ›

CDC recommends making water microbiologically safe to drink by bringing it to a rolling boil for one (1) minute.

Is Jackson MS liberal or conservative? ›

Mississippi Democratic Party
ChairpersonTyree Irving
HeadquartersJackson, Mississippi
IdeologyCentrism Modern liberalism Populism
Political positionCenter
11 more rows

How old is mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba? ›

Who was the first black mayor in Mississippi? ›

(born December 21, 1946), is an American politician from Mississippi. He was elected in 1997 as the first African American Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, serving two terms.

Should I let tap water sit before drinking? ›

Let the water run before using it for drinking or cooking. If you have a lead service line, let the water run for 3-5 minutes. If you do not have a lead service line, let the water run for 30-60 seconds. The more time water has been sitting in your pipes, the more lead it may contain.

What are signs of lead poisoning in adults? ›

Lead exposure can cause high blood pressure and brain, kidney and reproductive health issues in adults. Symptoms of lead poisoning include headaches, stomach cramps, constipation, muscle/joint pain, trouble sleeping, fatigue, irritability, and loss of sex drive. Most adults with lead poisoning don't look or feel sick.

What year did they stop putting lead pipes in homes? ›

Congress banned the use of lead pipes in 1986 but allowed those already in the ground to remain. Three decades later, an estimated 15 to 22 million Americans still cook with and drink tap water entering their homes through lead pipes, known as "service lines."

Who is responsible for replacing lead water pipes? ›

Many water suppliers already have programmes in place to replace any lead pipes they find on their own network. However, homeowners and businesses are responsible for all pipes on their property – including internal pipes and the underground supply pipe which connects your home or business to the public water main.

Do all homes built before 1978 have lead paint? ›

If your home was built before 1978, it is more likely to have lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-based paint, but some states banned it even earlier. Lead-based paint is still present in millions of homes, normally under layers of newer paint.

How long does it take to get lead out of your system? ›

The half-life of lead in adult human blood has been estimated as 28 days [Griffin et al. 1975, as cited in ATSDR 2010] to 36 days [Rabinowitz et al.

What happened with flint water? ›

Flint water crisis, human-made public health crisis (April 2014–June 2016) involving the municipal water supply system of Flint, Michigan. Tens of thousands of Flint residents were exposed to dangerous levels of lead, and outbreaks of Legionnaire disease killed at least 12 people and sickened dozens more.

Is Jackson still under a boil water notice? ›

A recent flood worsened Jackson's longstanding water system problems. JACKSON, Miss. — A boil-water notice was lifted Thursday in Mississippi's capital city after nearly seven weeks, Gov.

What percentage of Jackson Mississippi is black? ›

Black or African American: 82.47% White: 16.19% Two or more races: 0.70% Asian: 0.33%

What is Jackson Mississippi known for? ›

Jackson is the capital of Mississippi and the most populous city in the state, located conveniently at the junction of Interstates 20 and 55. Jackson is home to several fantastic museums, which cover a wide range of topics, including history, civil rights, African-American culture, natural sciences, and art.

Can you taste lead in drinking water? ›

You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. The best way to know your risk of exposure to lead in drinking water is to identify the potential sources of lead in your service line and household plumbing.

Is tap water safe to drink? ›

In most parts of the United States and Canada, it's safe to drink tap water from public water systems. Tap water that's been properly filtered is equally safe as bottled water and provides you with essential minerals you may not get from bottled water.

Is Flint water safe to drink? ›

Flint enters 6th straight year of compliance with water standards for lead. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) today announced that the City of Flint's water system has entered its sixth consecutive year of meeting state and federal standards for lead in drinking water.

Is Jackson water safe to drink? ›

Gov. Tate Reeves and Jackson officials said in separate announcements that the state health department lifted a boil-water notice that had been in place nearly seven weeks in the city of 150,000. “We have restored clean water to the city of Jackson ,” Reeves said during a news conference.

How long do you have to boil water to make it safe? ›

Bring the clear water to a rolling boil for 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for 3 minutes). Let the boiled water cool. Store the boiled water in clean sanitized containers with tight covers.

Is Jackson MS on boil water alert? ›

The City of Jackson remains under a boil water advisory until it is able to conduct two days of clear test samples.

What is the whitest county in Mississippi? ›

Mississippi White Population Percentage by County
CountyValue
Lowndes52.8
Madison57.6
Marion66.4
Marshall50.7
78 more rows

Is Jackson Mississippi mostly Black? ›

African Americans are a majority in the city of Jackson, although the metropolitan area is majority white. African Americans are also a majority in several cities and counties of the Mississippi Delta, which are included in the 2nd congressional district.

What city has most black population? ›

In 2020, the largest cities which had a Black majority were Detroit, Michigan (population 639K), Memphis, Tennessee (population 633K), Baltimore, Maryland (population 534K), New Orleans, Louisiana (population 384K), and Cleveland, Ohio (population 373K).

What is the racial makeup of Jackson Mississippi? ›

Table
Population
Female persons, percent 54.0%
Race and Hispanic Origin
White alone, percent 16.2%
Black or African American alone, percent(a) 82.5%
54 more rows

What is the number 1 attraction in Mississippi? ›

The 13 Top Attractions in Mississippi
  • The Grammy Museum Mississippi. Museum. ...
  • Elvis Presley Birthplace. Museum. ...
  • Windsor Ruins. Ruins. ...
  • Mississippi Children's Museum. Museum. ...
  • Rowan Oak. Museum. ...
  • Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo. Zoo. ...
  • Geyser Falls Water Theme Park. Amusement Park. ...
  • Mississippi State Fair. Amusement Park.
16 Jun 2018

Is Jackson MS a good place to live? ›

How safe is Jackson, MS? Jackson is generally safe, with a small-town feel and overall neighborly atmosphere. But statistics reveal an above-average crime rate.

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