Ross: How Jackson’s water crisis reflects Seattle’s infrastructure

Sep 1, 2022, 7:10 AM | Updated: 7:15 am

People fish in the Pearl River near the spillway on August 31, 2022 in Jackson, Mississippi. Jackso...

People fish in the Pearl River near the spillway on August 31, 2022 in Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson, Mississippi, the state’s capital, is currently struggling with access to safe drinking water after disruption at a main water processing facilty. (Photo by Brad Vest/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brad Vest/Getty Images)

Jackson, Mississippi is a long way from here – both physically and historically.

There are many reasons behind its water crisis: global warming, lousy maintenance, and, of course, its racial history, which saw the richer white population moving out years ago to escape desegregation, and never returning, taking most of the tax base with them.

But whatever the reasons, we are witnessing the State Capitol of Mississippi, a city the size of Bellevue, running out of water. In America. In 2022.

There’s plenty of blame to go around, but blame cannot hydrate you.

So my philosophy is to assume things will go wrong and try to be ready.

All of us who live in cities are completely dependent on stuff that breaks down if it’s not maintained. Seattle is much better off than Jackson, and yet we know that all man-made systems eventually fall apart, and sometimes surprise us. Like a certain prominent bridge I’ve crossed many times. And I can’t help but think of all the invisible stuff that’s also slowly deteriorating – like water systems.

And, of course, after the earthquake – who knows.

Which is why I have the rain barrels, and why I don’t recycle juice bottles. If that sounds crazy, then call me crazy – many of you already have – but I fill those bottles with water, and I store them anywhere I can.

I admit I get a little pushback at home. Because it can be annoying to find bottles of water in closets, under sinks, on the patio, next to the bed…

But I’ve seen our emergency water plan on Mercer Island – and it’s great that we have one – but it involves people lining up at the emergency water pump where water will be dispensed from hoses.

I’d much rather just open the closet.

And seeing what happened in Mississippi, I may have to start buying bigger juice bottles.

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Ross: How Jackson’s water crisis reflects Seattle’s infrastructure