JACKSON, Miss (AP) — Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has extended a state of emergency due to the water crisis in the capital, Jackson. On the same day the emergency declaration was due to expire, Reeves said the state of emergency he declared on August 30 would remain in place until November 22.
Reeves and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba exchanged comments about how much control the state and city will have to decide on a private company to operate Jackson’s water system for the long term. City officials say an operator will be in place by Nov. 17, though a plan has yet to be finalized.
Reeves said extending the state of emergency would allow for a five-day transition period between the state’s management team and a private company that will be chosen to operate the water system long-term.
Jackson’s water system has been plagued with problems for decadesand the last problems started end of august after heavy rains exacerbated problems at the city’s main sewage treatment plant, leaving many customers without running water. Jackson had previously been on a boil water advisory since late July because the state health department found cloudy water that could make people sick.
Jackson’s water crisis left most homes and businesses in the city without running water for several days in late August and early September. Since then, “the state has invested nearly $13 million to support Jackson’s failing water system, distribute water, and restore clean, running water to city residents,” Reeves said.
President Joe Biden approved a federal emergency declaration on August 30. Volunteers and the National Guard distributed millions of bottles of drinking water. Water pressure was restored and the city’s boil water advisory was lifted in mid-September. But many residents remain skeptical about water safety in the city.
The Environmental Protection Agency announcement in October that he is investigating whether Mississippi state agencies discriminated against Jackson by refusing to fund water system improvements in the city of 150,000, where more than 80% of residents are black and about a quarter of the population lives in poverty. Two congressional committees have also launched a joint investigation in the crisis.
Lumumba’s office declined to comment on Friday.
Michael Goldberg is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mikergoldberg.
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