Visiting JSU crowds put strain on Jackson water system, mayor says
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba cautioned at a Monday press conference that capital city residents should be conscious of their water consumption as another large flock of visitors is expected at Jackson State University’s football game this coming weekend.
Lumumba said there was an increased demand for water this last weekend as people travelled into the city for JSU’s homecoming game. The extra consumption put pressure on the city’s water distribution system, the mayor said, which was dealing with water line leaks. On Saturday, the city issued a boil water notice for 380 connections in southwest Jackson.
The mayor called it a “very difficult weekend” for the water system, and even warned residents of the potential for a citywide boil water notice if there’s too much demand on the already fragile treatment plants.
“I want to provide this warning: we’re expecting a large number of people to come in this weekend as well as Jackson State prepares for its rivalry game with Southern University,” Lumumba said. “We’re asking that people be cognizant, that people be considerate over their consumption. Don’t use more than what you need to use, as increased demand and the pressure on our water treatment facilities could actually cause challenges with our water pressure, and if the water pressure drops significantly enough then we might find ourselves in a citywide boil water notice again.”
As the extra consumption put pressure on the surface water delivery system, which serves most residents, well system customers also saw interruptions after a motor pump failure by Highway 18. Lumumba said the city made an emergency purchase for a new pump with the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval, and that the city slowly restored water pressure over the weekend.
The mayor also discussed new funding opportunities for the water system, some that have already been allocated and some that the city is applying for:
- $5 million the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
- $20 million from Congress’ continuing resolution to fund the federal government.
- $4 million through state and private assistance grants through the EPA.
- $71 million Jackson has applied for through state allocation of the American Rescue Plan Act.
- Up to $50 million the city is pursuing through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant program.
Lumumba also referenced plans the city has had to decommission J.H. Fewell, the city’s secondary water treatment plant. While the city will still look to replace Fewell at some point, he said those plans are “a long way away” as the city needs the plant’s production to “make up the difference” with what O.B. Curtis can produce.
“That is the long-term vision, and it increasingly appears to be the long-term vision to create a new water treatment facility in its entirety, even moving away from O.B. Curtis,” the mayor said. “But J.H. Fewell is more than 100 years old, there are parts and equipment at J.H. Fewell that are completely obsolete and will never be repaired. But today, we don’t have the luxury of moving away from J.H. Fewell.”
Lumumba added that the city’s request for proposals for a contractor to operate the city’s water facilities will go until Nov. 7, and that he expects the contract to start on Nov.17. He continued to dispute Gov. Tate Reeves’ assertion that Lumumba had left the state’s Unified Command Structure established to assist in the Jackson water crisis, saying that he met with the team earlier Monday.