Water system in Mississippi’s Capital could get new owners

Jan 24, 2023, 3:06 AM | Updated: 5:09 pm
FILE - This is an aerial view of the city of Jackson, Miss.'s O.B. Curtis Water Plant in Ridgeland,...

FILE - This is an aerial view of the city of Jackson, Miss.'s O.B. Curtis Water Plant in Ridgeland, Miss., Sept. 1, 2022. Mississippi lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, that would transfer ownership of the state capital city's troubled water system to a new public entity overseen by a nine-member board, the majority of whom would be appointed by state leaders. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Jackson’s troubled water system could get a new set of owners under legislation advanced Tuesday by Republican lawmakers in Mississippi.

The bill would transfer ownership to a new public entity overseen by a nine-member board, the majority of which would be appointed by state leaders. Republicans control both houses of the Mississippi Legislature, as well as the governor’s mansion. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, a Democrat, has said he wants the city to maintain control of its water.

Legislation sent from committee to the full Mississippi Senate is the state’s latest response to a water crisis that has caused repeated outages in which many in the city of about 150,000 have gone days and weeks without water to drink, cook, bathe or flush toilets. The problems have also heaped financial strain on businesses.

“I have been in economic development meetings this year with people who have told me that they don’t maybe want to come to Mississippi because we don’t have any water here,” said Sen. David Parker, a Republican from Olive Branch. “So whether we like it or not, we’ve got a problem we need to act on here.”

The bill, introduced by Parker, would transfer water, wastewater and storm water services provided by Jackson to a new public utility district’s “ownership, management and control” after an interim manager appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice to oversee the water system concludes his work.

The Justice Department appointed Ted Henifin, a former public works director from Virginia, as the interim manager after it won a federal judge’s approval to carry out a rare intervention. Henifin said he plans to leave his position in one year or less, though the federal judge’s order wouldn’t require him to do so.

The proposed Mississippi Capitol Region Utility Authority would be established once a majority of a nine-member board is appointed. It would assume ownership of the water system when a federal court terminates Henifin’s position.

Four appointments would be reserved for the Jackson mayor, but he would be required to “consult” with mayors of nearby Byram and Ridgeland on two of those appointments. The governor would make three appointments to the board, and the lieutenant governor would make two. All nine appointments would need to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Lumumba has said in the past that he wants the city to maintain ownership of the water system. A member of his staff said he was unavailable to comment Tuesday.

City and state officials have clashed in the past over the creation of government boards that have exerted some control over how Jackson spends its tax revenue and money raised from public bonds.

___

Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mikergoldberg.

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

AP

A shopper checks out an item in a Target store in Pittsburgh on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. On Friday, t...
Associated Press

US inflation and consumer spending cooled in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge eased further in December, and consumer spending fell — the latest evidence that the Fed’s series of interest rate hikes are slowing the economy. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department showed that prices rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from a 5.5% year-over-year […]
19 hours ago
Abdul Wasi Safi smiles after a news conference Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, in Houston. Wasi Safi, an int...
Associated Press

Afghan soldier seeking US asylum hopes for ‘American dream’

HOUSTON (AP) — In the months he was held in detention in Texas during his legal fight to remain in the U.S., Afghan soldier Abdul Wasi Safi thought he would eventually be returned to his home country and meet a likely death at the hands of the Taliban because of his work with the U.S. […]
19 hours ago
The Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06 passes the High Class Racing ORECA LMP2 07 in a turn during a p...
Associated Press

IMSA takes North American sports cars into hybrid era

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Cadillac growls, while the Porsche and BMW scream. The Acura sounds like an Indy car, and for fun, turn your back to the track and listen carefully as the cars roar around Daytona International Speedway in a new era of IMSA sports car racing. The top prototype class has […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Woman in groping case with former lawmaker speaks out

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A woman who told police she was groped by a former state lawmaker and Trump fundraiser said she is outraged by him calling the incident “laughable” and said he did an about-face on his apology after she asked to dismiss the criminal charge against him. Elizabeth Daly on Thursday issued a […]
19 hours ago
A member of the Mexican National Guard stands guard at a city's subway station in Mexico City, Thur...
Associated Press

Mexico City says subway crash caused by cut wires, speeding

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico City prosecutors said Friday that severed cables and a speeding driver were responsible for a Jan. 7 subway crash that killed one person and injured dozens. One subway train slammed into another between stations, leading city officials to suspect sabotage, though many city residents see the problem as a lack […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Nicaragua arrests 24 after attack in indigenous land dispute

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Nicaraguan authorities said Friday they arrested 24 settlers after they allegedly attacked an indigenous community as part of a land dispute. It was the first large-scale arrest of non-indigenous settlers after several years of invasions and attacks in the territory belonging to the Miskito, Mayangna and other indigenous groups. Nicaragua’s National […]
19 hours 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.
Water system in Mississippi’s Capital could get new owners