Mississippi’s largest city struggling from ongoing water crisis

By: Alyssa Wilson

About 40,000 residents in Jackson, Mississippi have been without water for weeks after freezing temperatures impacted the aging water system. 

More than 80% of the city’s residents are Black and those who can get water are being told to boil it before use. 

Mississippi State Representative Ronnie Crudup Jr. joined BNC’s Start Your Day with Sharon Reed and Mike Hill to provide an update on the crisis. 

Crudup says residents are approaching their third week without water. 

After getting a small amount of water restored, residents experienced another setback on Wednesday when equipment at the water treatment plant broke and water pressure decreased again. 

“We thought we were kind of seeing the end of this, but we don’t know at this current moment,” Crudup said. 

Churches have been providing residents with bottled water to help them eat, drink, cook, shower and flush toilets. 

Crudup says South Jackson and West Jackson are the impacted areas and his family has been affected personally by the disaster. 

“We don’t have running water as well. So we’ve been having to go and rent hotel rooms to go and shower,” he said. 

Crudup also said it’s been tough with his children doing virtual learning.

The state representative said that Jackson’s again water system has been an issue that’s been going on for a long time. 

“The city has been trying to address this thing for over 10 years,” he said. 

In 2012, the city of Jackson hired Siemens to update the water system as part of a $91 million project. 

The contract led to widespread billing issues what was called “a bait and switch scheme.” 

In 2019, the city sued Siemens and several subcontractors for the failure. 

Crudup says the polar vortex that brought freezing water to the area is one of the main reasons the system finally failed. 

“We’ve never had a freeze that hard for more than five straight days,” he said. “It basically shut down our water treatment facility, so we need to weatherize that.” 

According to Crudup, the city needs a comprehensive plan to address the issue to prevent it from happening again. 

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has distributed over 500,000 bottles of water in the last two weeks. 

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