The war of words in Jackson continues as residents still struggle through a water crisis that has lasted for decades.
During a meeting on Tuesday, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told residents, “Don’t trust the state,” when it came to fixing their water issues. He also questioned whether the state provided equal protection for residents in Jackson compared to other cities.
According to Clarion Ledger during the meeting, the mayor opposed allowing the city’s water and sewer administration to be taken over by the state and asked citizens “not be hoodwinked or misled into believing your city doesn’t have a plan,” citing a $200 million plan commissioned by his administration.
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And while water pressure in Jackson has stabilized, Lumumba said the public shouldn’t assume the problem is over.
This week the federal government meet with Jackson officials to reach an agreement that would safeguard Jackson’s water system for the foreseeable future. Michael Regan, an Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, told ABC News that the federal government plans to “deliver long overdue relief for Jackson residents.”
“The people of Jackson, Mississippi, have lacked access to safe and reliable water for decades, Regan said.
“After years of neglect, Jackson’s water system finally reached a breaking point this summer, leaving tens of thousands of people without any running water for weeks. These conditions are unacceptable in the United States of America.”
According to the EPA, 300 boil water notices have been issued over the past two years in the city. But Jackson’s water problems go back much further than a few years.
Jackson has struggled with safe water access since the 1940s.
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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has publicly blamed Jackson’s water crisis on city officials, but the NAACP has demanded answers as well as solutions from both the governor and mayor.
On Tuesday the organization submitted a 25-page complaint to the EPA, requesting “an immediate investigation into the use of federal funds related to drinking water in Jackson and to seek the rapid adoption of comprehensive enforcement remedies.”
According to PBS, Reeves was state treasurer from 2004 to 2012 and the 32nd lieutenant governor from 2012 to 2020. During that time the state Bond Commission, which Reeves was a part of, refused to vote on bonds the city had requested to repair its crumbling water and sewer infrastructure.
Mississippi is the poorest state in the union; 18.8% of its residents live at or below the poverty line. The state also boasts the highest child poverty rate, with 27.9% of its under-18 population meeting federal poverty guidelines. Nearly 39% of the state’s Black population lives below the poverty line
As more questions arise about how we got here hopefully, city and state officials can come together to solve the Jackson water crisis once and for all.
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