Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said Tuesday, a day after issuing a local state of emergency, that the city’s crews were working with contractors in searching for leaks in Jackson’s water system as residents still deal with little to no pressure coming out of their taps.
The city issued a citywide boil water notice, the third one this year, around 10 a.m. Christmas morning. The mayor said Tuesday that pressure had improved the last two days, but is still low because of unidentified leaks throughout the city’s water lines.
Lumumba said there are five crews of workers roaming the city to find those leaks, but also called upon the help of residents, asking Jacksonians not to assume the city already knows the locations of all the leaks.
The boil water notice impacts the over 170,000 people who drink from Jackson’s surface water system. Lumumba clarified that the city’s well system customers should also boil their water.
“We’ve heard from residents who have not had water for days, I’ve spoken to residents who were scrambling to fix Christmas dinner with little to no water,” Lumumba said Tuesday. “I’ve spoken to residents who are tired of apologies.”
The recent calamity comes just days after Congress announced a historic $600 million investment towards the city’s water system, and just a few weeks after the federal government and Jackson reached an agreement over a temporary third-party takeover.
When asked about solutions, the mayor said part of the answer will be adding new gauges throughout the city to help more quickly identify leaks. But he also emphasized the need to weatherize the pipes, as well as the treatment plants.
The O.B. Curtis treatment plant was at the root of the last cold weather shutdown of the city’s water system in 2021, when exposed equipment at the plant broke down in the face of frigid temperatures. The city has since started to cover parts of O.B. Curtis, but the weatherization of the plant is incomplete.
City officials first told residents about the lack of pressure on Saturday, Christmas Eve, and said the city’s crews were working to determine the cause as both plants were functioning. A news release later that night said many parts of south and northwest Jackson had low water pressure, and that some residents reported losing running water altogether.
Officials said Monday that it was getting “more and more” reports of little to no water pressure in west and south Jackson, as well as in Byram.
The cold weather, a constant foe to Jackson’s aging distribution system, dropped as low as 16 degrees on Saturday.
The recent federal aid to Jackson largely came as a result of the last citywide boil water notice, which ended in September after state and federal intervention. While the short-term support helped stabilize the system, Jackson has issued over 50 boil water notices to different parts of the city since then, showing the persisting fragility of its distribution system.
Declaring the local emergency helps the city distribute resources such as potable water as quickly as possible, said Lumumba, who added that he’s requested additional help from the state emergency agency.
To help identify water leaks from ruptured pipes around the city, officials ask that residents report information to 311 or 601-960-1111 during business hours, or 601-960-1875 after business hours.
Residents can refer to the state Health Department’s list of what to do during a boil water notice, which includes using boiled water to brush teeth, make ice, and wash food with.
Lumumba added that residents should stop letting their faucets drip as the weather warms up to help reduce water demand.
Jackson officials are working with the Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition to distribute water. Elderly or disabled residents can call 311 to have water delivered. The city listed the following sites for water distribution on Wednesday:
Metro Center Mall near old Dillards Loading Dock
Candlestick Plaza off Cooper Rd, Jackson, MS
Corner of Northside Drive and Manhattan Road near Smillow Prep
Elderly or disabled residents who are unable to travel to a distribution site, should call 311 or 601-960-1875. Provided by Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition and City of Jackson.
For updates on future water distribution, residents can call 311 or 601-960-1875 for information.