The Water Crisis in Jackson, Mississippi: How Access to Clean Water Has Changed

Jackson, Mississippi is a city with one of the highest proportions of African Americans in the United States. With over 1,000 community water systems, almost all of them coming from underground sources, the city has been facing a water crisis for some time. In October, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba was criticized for his handling of the situation and accused of acting in bad faith. Now that the city is in a state of emergency, authorities are struggling to provide bottled water to tens of thousands of people living in poverty. The water crisis in Jackson has its roots in April 1913 when then-Mayor Swepson James Taylor and an ad hoc commission determined that “the leak of the Pearl River supply is Jackson's only solution to the water problem”.

Climate change, aging infrastructure and lack of investment have all contributed to the current state of affairs. To make matters worse, Jackson also operates a small system of wells that rely on groundwater and supply some 16,000 customers in the southern part of the city and in the vicinity of Byram. The Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, both passed in the 1970s, mandated most cities to invest in significant improvements in order to meet new regulations on contaminant testing and thresholds. However, Mississippi, like many southern states, went through a period of dramatic change during this time. Jason Barrett, associate extension professor at the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute, believes that this period has had a lasting effect on access to clean water. Crudup said that while the city has had water problems in the past, rain has played a role in the current water emergency.

The last rains prevented access to drinking water for more than 150,000 people in the capital of Mississippi. By choosing filtered river water, Jackson strayed from the path that most communities in Mississippi would take. The water crisis in Jackson is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed. The city needs to invest more resources into improving its infrastructure and ensuring access to clean drinking water for all its citizens. The state government should also provide more support and funding for projects that will help improve access to clean water.

In addition, citizens should be educated about how they can conserve water and reduce their consumption. The water crisis in Jackson is a complex issue with many contributing factors. It is essential that all stakeholders work together to find solutions that will ensure access to clean drinking water for everyone living in Jackson. Only then can we ensure that everyone has access to safe and clean drinking water.

Abby Parrett
Abby Parrett

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