Government offices prepare for water shutdown

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Kayleigh Skinner, Mississippi Today

Portapotties line the sidewalk in front of the Capitol in preparation for a water shutdown beginning Friday by the city of Jackson.

 

Around 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning, a man lowered four portapotties off of a truck and arranged them in a neat line on the Capitol lawn.

As the city of Jackson prepares to shut down parts of the city’s water distribution system to fix water main breaks, state government officials are joining residents, restaurants and businesses that are scrambling to prepare.

The Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration is furnishing the Capitol and other government-owned buildings with portable toilets ahead of the planned shutdown from 3 p.m. Friday until 3 p.m. Sunday as many Jackson-area homes and buildings are expected to lose water pressure.

In an email sent to all state agency heads Wednesday, Department of Finance and Administration Executive Director Laura Jackson said the agency has “taken several steps to mitigate any potential issues that may arise.”

“While we are hoping for the best, we are preparing for the worst,” the email said.

The loss of water pressure may cause buildings to lose cooling and heating, and when the pressure does return agencies will be under a boil water notice for 48 hours, the email said.

The email also warned that the bathrooms on the upper floors of the Sillers and Woolfolk buildings, both downtown, may become unoperable.

“Operations of the restrooms will be restored hours after water pressure has been restored. To counteract this, DFA will be placing portable bathroom units around state-owned buildings in the affected geographical area,” the email said.

Employees are encouraged to bring their own bottled water to work.

DFA director of communications Chuck McIntosh said agency employees are treating Friday “as just another workday,” meaning they are expected to go to their offices.

Other state entities shared that sentiment. Department of Education spokeswoman Patrice Guilfoyle said employees are expected to come to work Friday and monitor the department website and emergency text messaging service for updates if the shutdown lasts longer than Sunday.

The Attorney General’s Office, which is located inside the Sillers Building, will be “running as usual” until 5 p.m., said spokeswoman Rachael Ring.

The House is adjourned until Monday, but the Statehouse portapotties will be there for the Senate staffers and senators who convene at 9 a.m. Friday.