Gov. Tate Reeves’ the Jackson Mississippi water crisis on poor management system, but Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba confirms other reasonings behind the failed system.
The 80 percent Black city has endured many obstacles leading up to this huge water crisis.
With almost 150,000 people in Jackson, many lived without clean drinking water.
People in Jackson, Mississippi is far from strangers of low water pressure, boil water notices, and most infuriating– being ignored by state government leaders.
Prior to the Brown v. Board of Education ruling desegregated schools in Jackson, White families lived in the area. But shortly after they began to vanish. The city thrived on their taxes but the migration to less advantaged, unfairly treated citizens resulted in continuous collapse of well-being for most.
According to Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the 2022 Jackson Mississippi water crisis is just a reflection on the neglect the city has long gone over the year.
In offense Governor Reeves claimed city officials failed to give the state and federal governments a plan to fix longstanding issues with the water system. Additionally, he claimed that staff in the water plant where the failure happened “had been abandoned.”
But Mayor Lumumba is now presenting documented records in contradiction to Reeves claims.
During, Tuesday’s press conference he said, “We are currently producing stable pressure, but if a challenge arises with plant operation, it will likely impact customers.”
When affirming statements, he presented the city’s capital improvement plan from a few years back. The plan included funding requests for the water treatment plant. As well as a document listing a number of critical repairs and a schedule for implementation.
Additionally, he presented an outline of all the repairs needed in the water plant. Lumumba, said the city submitted to the Hinds County legislative delegation. He provided a letter he wrote to the governor and Congress members — including Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) — after winter storms swept through the town in 2020. With all the effort put forward he never received a response.
In 2020, President Biden signed into effect the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which only two of Mississippi’s representation in Washington voted for despite the state’s desperate need of the appropriate funds.
The bill provided over $400 million to Mississippi specifically for its water systems.
Because these funds had to be spread across the state, it barely made a dent in the billions of dollars Jackson would need to fix its water woes.
The same year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Mississippi a D+ grade for the lack of maintenance and condition of its infrastructure. For many residents of Jackson, the D grade is generous, as many of them now have an added expense of collecting water to comfortably use in their homes instead of the water they have been paying for.
When the city’s most recent boil water notice went into effect, the residents of Jackson had no idea how long it would persist and the effects that the recent flood would have on a water plant already in need of repair.
According to the Mississippi Student Water Crisis Advocacy Team, it has been over a month since that advisory was put up, and by the words of our city and state leaders, there is no end in sight– this is where I and other students from Jackson State University saw a gap that needed to be filled. There are many organizations across the city and state that have set up water distribution sites for people to drive up and collect water cases in their cars, but it begged the question, “What about the elderly, disabled, or folks without a car?” So our group of volunteers took matters in our own hands.
In just 24 hours of this idea’s inception, the Mississippi Student Water Crisis Advocacy Team was comprised of 20 team members, raised over $2,000 in donations, and gave out over 100 cases of water. Since then, the team has grown to 30, with more volunteers rolling in daily. We have raised over $5,000, hundreds of cases are being delivered, and thousands of residents are being impacted.
This is a testament to not only the persistence of students here in Jackson but of the critical need there was for the services we provide. As Mississippians, we unfortunately have a long history of self-reliance for the most basic needs and civil rights, and that tradition continues by young people in this area who look to the legacies and examples that were set for us long ago.
Maisie Brown is the Executive Coordinator of the ACLU of Mississippi and creator of the Student Water Crisis Advocacy Team. She can be reached across all social platforms at @MaisieBrownJxn.