While a massive federal cash infusion is on the horizon for Jackson’s troubled water system, the city’s notorious boil water notices are piling up.
Since Gov. Tate Reeves proudly declared the end of a citywide advisory on Sept. 15 following the state’s takeover of the drinking water system, Jackson — now under the supervision of a federally appointed third-party administrator — has issued 70 new boil water notices, or more than one every other day, including 16 this month alone.
The city hasn’t gone a day without an active boil water notice for over a month, since Dec. 21.
In the U.S. Department of Justice’s complaint against Jackson in November over drinking water violations, the agency listed over 320 boil water notices that had been issued between May 2020 and last October. Mississippi Today mapped out those notices, as well as those issued since then — totaling 381 — below:
The zip codes that received the most boil water notices in that two and a half-year stretch were 39211 (northeast Jackson) and 39209 (west Jackson) with 56 each.
In terms of Census tracts — a narrower geographic breakdown — the parts of the city with the most notices were Belhaven (between Woodrow Wilson Avenue and Fortification Street, east of State Street) with 29, and central Jackson (between Woodrow Wilson Avenue and Meadowbrook Road, including Fondren) with 22.
The average length of the notices was about four days, with the longest notice lasting 49 days; that advisory came in January 2021 for 25 connections on Forest Hill Road in south Jackson and continued during the winter freeze that led to a citywide notice.
On average, the length of boil water notices are longer in south Jackson, the section of the city farthest from the city's main treatment plant in Ridgeland, than the rest of the city, as mapped below:
City officials attribute most of these notices to aging and fragile water lines. Ted Henifin, the city's third-party manager of the water system, said last month he expects a project using $20 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to upgrade 10 miles of water lines in the city to start this summer. With about 100 miles of smaller-than-ideal water lines in Jackson, Henifin estimated it may take five to 10 years to make the necessary replacements.
Currently, the city has three active boil water notices for different parts of the city — Oak Brook Drive, Lakeland Lane and parts of Byram (click here for full details) — affecting 190 connections, as well as a conservation notice that went into effect last summer.
For information on what to do during and after a boil water notice, visit the state Department of Health's guidelines here.