Community event part of Mayor’s update on Jackson MS water crisis

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba will host an event Tuesday night to hear from the community about Jackson. water crisis.

He invited a number of officials to the event, including Governor Tate Reeves, although no one other than the mayor was confirmed in a press release sent by the city shortly after the announcement during of Lumumba’s weekly press conference.

The community meeting will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at College Hill Baptist Church, located at 1600 Florence Avenue.

“We always appreciate input from our residents. Three minutes on the microphone of the city council does not equate to community participation, and so we love having these kinds of discussions,” Lumumba said. “We invite members of council, the Hinds County delegation, the health department, the governor, MEMA and FEMA to be present with us. We are extending this invitation so that questions people have may not only be directed to city officials and any other technical expertise we have there, but anyone else who has a role to play in this process.”

It’s unclear whether Reeves or others will accept Lumumba’s invitation. A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to a request for comment at press time. Lumumba and Reeves had a sometimes contentious relationship as they worked with each other during the water crisis in the state capital. Although each appearing at numerous press conferences for the past two weeks they’ve only done it together twice.

Mayor responds to EPA investigation

Lumumba also responded to reports that the Environmental Protection Agency is investigating Jackson’s water and sewer issues. He said he hadn’t heard from the EPA, but some city employees and water treatment plant workers had contacted his administration to tell them that EPA officials asked them questions.

“I just shared with them to cooperate,” Lumumba said.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Governor Tate Reeves during a press conference at the Jackson State University Student Center in Jackson, Mississippi, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022.

Updated water conditions

In addition to announcing the community meeting and answering questions about the EPA investigation, Lumumba also provided an update on the water situation.

Water pressure in the system is 88 pounds per square inch, one PSI above target, and water production levels continue to rise at the OB Curtis water treatment plant, Lumumba said.

Crews continue to repair the two intake pumps that failed at the Curtis plant. While once thought that one of the pumps was ready to come back online, Lumumba said further repairs were needed and they now expect both to be completed “around the same time”, although it does not have a precise timetable. A rental pump that was acquired by the state continues to supplement the work of the two pumps that are offline.

Jim Craig, with the Mississippi State Department of Health, left, leads Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, right, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell, at center, and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, rear, as they walk past sedimentation ponds at the City of Jackson's OB Curtis Water Treatment Facility in Ridgeland, Mississippi, on Friday September 2, 2022. Jackson's water system has partially failed following flooding and heavy rain that exacerbated long-standing issues at one of two water treatment plants.

The mayor also said investigative sampling at the plant is continuing, but the results are still not good enough to move on to system-wide sample collection. So that the city boil water advisory finally, testing at 120 sample sites across Jackson must be clean. Even though there is “optimism around” the investigative tests, Lumumba said, it will take time for poor quality water to be flushed out of the system.

Last week the two mayor and governor said it would be “days, not weeks or months,” before the boil water advisory is lifted. Lumumba repeated the same on Monday. He said he remains confident in that schedule.

“It’s not my overall thinking. It’s not your mayor telling you that,” Lumumba said. “It’s listening to the very many technicians who are there. I think there is an effort to be able to say with complete certainty and confidence that we feel good that now is the time to lift this boil water advisory. water. He stretched longer than any of us would like him to stretch. I wouldn’t say I have more confidence today than I did last week. I had confidence in the process that was unfolding last week, and I remain confident in that process this week. It’s only a matter of time.

Governor calls for federal help for small businesses

Reeves requested Monday evening that the Small Business Administration provide economic disaster loans for Hinds County companies impacted by the water crisis.

“Jackson’s businesses have been incredibly hard hit by the ongoing water crisis,” Reeves said in a press release. “They have shown their resilience and commitment to this city over the years, and my administration will continue to do everything in its power to support them during this difficult time.”

ARPA funds prioritized for water and sewer infrastructure

Also on Monday, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors approved $6 million in infrastructure spending, which will include the construction of a new water tower to improve water pressure in South Jackson. The funds come from the American Rescue Plan Act and will see individual matching of state ARPA funds. In the past, Reeves has criticized the county for not spending more of the ARPA money allocated to it and, in doing so, preventing the state from providing matching funds.

The county spending came days after the city council decided to spend its remaining ARPA funds on water and sewer infrastructure.

Charity actions continue

Donations continue to help provide clean water to people in Jackson’s water system, which includes residents of Byram.

The Mississippi Food Network distributed two truckloads of water on Monday, courtesy of BlueTriton Brands. The donated water is mainly distributed by faith-based charities and community aid groups, while the National Guard distributes state-acquired water at four of its own sites.

Mississippi Food Network CEO Charles H. Beady Jr. said he’s grateful for the water donations, but he encourages people to remember the food needs of Jackson-area residents.

Joseph K. Bennett