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Boil notice lifted for Jackson after nearly 7 weeks of water crisis, Mississippi officials announce

The state's capital has been dealing with the crisis since late August, when Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency after there was no running water in the city.
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A boil-water advisory has been lifted for Jackson, Mississippi, after a water crisis that lasted nearly seven weeks, Gov. Tate Reeves announced Thursday.

“We can now announce that we have restored clean water to the city of Jackson as of today," Reeves said. "We can state that the boil water advisory can be lifted for all those that rely on Jackson’s water system.

“The system is still imperfect, and we’re going to address issues throughout the duration of the state’s response. It is possible, although I pray not inevitable, that there will be further interruption. We cannot perfectly predict what will go wrong with such a broken system,” he said.

Reeves declared a state of emergency in late August, saying the water crisis in the state capital had no end in sight.

President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration Aug. 30 and pledged federal aid.

Jackson residents have faced a water crisis since then that included no running water because of problems at the city’s main facility, the O.B. Curtis Water Plant, following flooding of the Pearl River.

Water pressure increased in Jackson last week after a systemwide failure the previous week.

Jackson health officials have said those who are pregnant or 5 years old or younger should use or an NSF 53 filter or bottled water for drinking and cooking.

A team from the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general’s office is conducting a top-to-bottom review of what caused the crisis.

“The EPA OIG is keenly interested and concerned about what is happening in Jackson, Mississippi,” Jennifer Kaplan, an agency spokesperson, said last week. “Last week, we began sending OIG personnel to collect data and conduct interviews, and over the coming week we expect to announce work related to the city’s water system.”  

Excessive rainfall and flooding late last month pushed the Pearl River to dangerous levels, further complicating problems at the water plant. The results were low or no water pressure for many residents.

Jackson had been under a boil water notice since July because tests found a cloudy quality to city-supplied water that could hinder the disinfection process and lead to illness.

The crisis in Jackson highlighted the problems of long-neglected infrastructure. A cold snap in February 2021 froze machinery and pipes and cut many residents off from running water for weeks

The city's water problems prompted school officials to temporarily switch from in-person classes to remote learning. Students returned to classes on Sept. 6.

Jackson, a city of 150,000 residents, nearly 83% of them Black, has long been plagued by infrastructure inadequacies that have made providing clean, reliable water a challenge.

The EPA issued a lengthy report in 2020 outlining major shortfalls in Jackson’s water system, which included a failure to replace lead pipes, faulty monitoring equipment and inadequate staffing.