$600M designated for struggling water system in Mississippi

Dec 23, 2022, 1:42 AM | Updated: 10:45 pm
FILE - A trickle of water comes out of the faucet at Mary Gaines' Golden Keys Senior Living apartme...

FILE - A trickle of water comes out of the faucet at Mary Gaines' Golden Keys Senior Living apartment in Jackson, Miss., Sept. 1, 2022. The federal government will put $600 million toward repairing the troubled water system in Mississippi's capital city...a project that the mayor has said could cost billions of dollars. Funding for Jackson, Miss., water is included in a $1.7 trillion federal spending bill that passed the Senate on Thursday, Dec. 22, and the House on Friday, Dec. 23. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The federal government will put $600 million toward repairing the troubled water system in Mississippi’s capital city — a project that the mayor has said could cost billions of dollars.

Funding for Jackson water is included in a $1.7 trillion federal spending bill that passed the Senate on Thursday and the House on Friday. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law.

“As families begin to gather for the holiday season, today’s action providing emergency funding to address the fundamental need of safe drinking water for every household in Jackson should be celebrated as a promise of equitable infrastructure services for all families everywhere,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson, who lives in Jackson, said in a statement Friday.

Jackson is a majority-Black city of nearly 150,000, with about 25% of residents living in poverty.

The city has had water woes for years, and its system nearly collapsed in late August after heavy rainfall flooded the Pearl River and exacerbated problems at the main water treatment plant. Most of Jackson lost running water for several days, and people had to wait in lines for water to drink, cook, bathe and flush toilets.

Since late July, people in the city had been advised to boil water before consuming it because health officials had found cloudy water that could cause illness. That advisory remained in place until mid-September.

In a federal complaint Sept. 27, the NAACP said Mississippi officials “all but assured” a drinking water calamity by depriving Jackson of badly needed funds to upgrade its infrastructure.

The EPA announced Oct. 20 that it was investigating whether Mississippi state agencies discriminated against the state’s majority-Black capital city by refusing to fund improvements to the water system. EPA Administrator Michael Regan has been to Jackson multiple times for meetings about the water.

In early November, state officials announced that Jackson would receive $35.6 million for water system improvements — money that came from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act. The city was required to make a dollar-for-dollar match from its share of the rescue plan funding, bringing that total to more than $71 million.

In late November, the U.S. Justice Department made a rare intervention by filing a proposal to appoint a third-party manager for the Jackson system. That was meant to be an interim step while the federal government, the city and the Mississippi State Department of Health try to negotiate a court-enforced consent decree, the department said. The goal is to achieve long-term sustainability of the system and the city’s compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and other laws.

A federal judge approved the intervention, and Ted Henifin, an experienced water system manager from Virginia, was appointed manager. He has the backing of Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba.

Henefin is overseeing work that includes a winterization project to make the water system less vulnerable and a plan to increase staffing at Jackson’s two treatment plants, which have had a shortage of skilled workers.

In a statement Friday, the EPA administrator said he is grateful to Congress for committing money to Jackson.

“The people of Jackson — like all people in this country — deserve access to clean, safe, and reliable water,” Regan said.

Johnson said the federal funding would not have been approved without advocacy from Jackson residents and leadership from the Biden administration and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat whose district includes most of Jackson.

“While this funding is a significant step in the right direction, it represents only a down payment,” Johnson said. “NAACP and our partners will continue to fight to protect Black and brown communities from environmental racism in Jackson and around the country.”

____

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Low-cost fashion chain H&M reports 4th-quarter loss

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Low-cost fashion brand H&M said Friday that shutting down its business in Russia and Belarus had a significant negative impact on its results, while increases in the costs of raw materials and freight and a strong U.S. dollar made purchases more expensive. The Sweden-based group said its net profit for the year […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine Pre...
Associated Press

Philippines: Unapproved probe into killings unacceptable

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine justice secretary said Friday that any investigation violating the country’s sovereignty by the International Criminal Court into the widespread killings of suspects during an anti-drug crackdown under former President Rodrigo Duterte would be “totally unacceptable.” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla spoke in reaction to a decision on Thursday by […]
1 day ago
South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Youngse speaks during news conference at the Government Comp...
Associated Press

S. Korea to support civilian aid to North in hopes of talks

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s government said Friday it will promote civilian efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea in hopes of softening a diplomatic freeze deepened by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s growing nuclear ambitions. South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Youngse didn’t specify the type of aid he sees as […]
1 day ago
Emergency workers and a man wade through flood waters in Auckland, New Zealand, Friday, Jan. 27, 20...
Associated Press

Elton John concert canceled due to wild New Zealand weather

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Torrential rain and wild weather in Auckland on Friday caused disruptions throughout the city and an Elton John concert to be canceled just before it was due to start. About 40,000 people were expected to attend the evening concert at Mt Smart Stadium in New Zealand’s largest city. Thousands were […]
1 day ago
A Malaysian ethnic Chinese prays on the first day of the Lunar New Year celebrations at a temple in...
Associated Press

AP Week in Pictures: Asia

Jan. 20-26, 2023 This photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published by Associated Press photographers in Asia and Pacific. The gallery was curated by AP photo editor Hiro Komae in Tokyo. Follow AP visual journalism: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/apnews AP Images on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Images AP Images blog: http://apimagesblog.com Copyright © The Associated […]
1 day ago
A model wears a creation as part of the Valentino Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2023 collection prese...
Associated Press

AP Week in Pictures: Europe and Africa

JAN 20-26, 2023 From skiing in Austria and Italy to military exercises in Romania and haute couture fashion shows in Paris, this photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published in the past week by The Associated Press from Europe and Africa. The selection was curated by AP photographer Petr Josek […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
$600M designated for struggling water system in Mississippi