Gov. Tate Reeves has officially ended the Aug. 30 state of emergency surrounding a water crisis that left Jackson and surrounding areas of Hinds County under a weeks-long boil water notice and poor to no water pressure.
He issued the executive order ending the emergency order on Tuesday.
Reeves had issued the emergency after the two primary raw water pumps at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant in Ridgeland had been removed for repairs and the collapse of Jackson’s water system was imminent.
The Environmental Protection Agency determined on Oct. 31 that the water from both the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant and the J.H. Fewell Water Treatment Plant was safe to drink.
On Nov. 17, the Jackson City Council voted to enter into a year-long federal “interim stipulated order” through the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the city’s drinking water violations that involves having.a third-party administrator to oversee the system.
The interim order heads to a federal judge to officially take effect.
In addition, the city council on Nov. 10 voted to approve an emergency agreement with WaterTalent LLC to provide temporary water operators for both water treatment plants. The contract is not to exceed $720,000 and will run through Feb. 28, 2023.
In his news release announcing the end of the state of emergency, Reeves continued his attack on the city’s administration for the system’s problems.
“The only remaining imminent challenge is the city’s refusal to hire routine maintenance staff, and that cannot constitute a state emergency. We need new leadership at the helm so that this crisis of incompetence cannot continue,” he said.
“It is also clear that the federal government is working to ensure that Jackson political leadership does not have the authority to mismanage the water system any further. That process needs to be completed, and it needs to be completed quickly. … I am hopeful that the federal government’s efforts to take control away from incompetent hands will wrap up swiftly.”
Meanwhile, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General is continuing its investigation that began in September. It is evaluating the EPA’s response to Jackson’s drinking water violations, as well as conducting an audit to see how spending decisions at the state and local levels impacted the recent water crisis.
Reeves’ executive order can be read in full here.