Public Service Commission seeks answers for Delta families living without running water since July

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Aallyah Wright, Mississippi Today

Minerva Clemon, 70, lives on the outskirts of Schlater, where she has been without running water since July.

SCHLATER – Mississippi’s top utility and water services agency plans to find ways to help residents on the outskirts of this Delta town of more than 300 people get access to running water.

Brandon Presley, Mississippi Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District, reached out to a Mississippi Today reporter for information on how to contact six families who are without running water and to see how the agency can help, said a spokesperson. The Public Service Commission is the state’s governmental agency that oversees electric, gas, water and sewer utilities.

Officials said they heard of the residents’ situation after reading Mississippi Today’s coverage of the six families – living in the countryside of Schlater  – who have been without running water for months as a result of broken water pumps. The Delta News, a Greenville-based television station, broke the news of the plight of Minerva Clemon, a Schlater resident who spoke out about how she and the other families were coping.

Following the report by the Delta News, people from Mississippi, Alabama and other states donated water to the families.

“I’m grateful people have been donating water to us,” Clemon said in a phone call with Mississippi Today on Monday. “We’re happy to have as many people who wants to help.”

When the well pump broke in July, Clemon said she spent over $1,000 in unsuccessful attempts to get water flowing again. In addition, she spent more than $300 on cases of water in order to cook, drink and bathe in clean water. Eventually, she reached out to Anjuan Brown, Leflore County supervisor, who represents her area.

Once he was notified of the issue, Brown said he immediately took action, making calls to federal, state, and local officials, to work on a long-term solution. As a temporary fix, the county donated a water tank for the residents. County officials said they don’t have any additional funds in their budget, so they plan to seek grants to cover the costs of either replacing the wells or building a water line to connect to the city of Greenwood, said Brown.

Cost estimates are not yet available.