$600 million slated for Jackson water in massive federal spending bill set for vote this week
A massive federal spending bill slated to be voted on this week includes $600 million for work on the beleaguered City of Jackson water system.
Congress is expected to vote this week on the $1.7 trillion spending bill that will avert a pending government shutdown and continue funding federal agencies through late 2023.
Little information was available Tuesday about the earmark for the City of Jackson. But tucked inside of the 4,155-page bill are appropriations of $150 million in one section and $450 million in another section in areas where “the president declared an emergency in August for fiscal year 2022.”
The loss of water pressure and perennial boil water notices were caused by long-term problems with the system. Those problems were exacerbated by flooding on the Ross Barnett Reservoir, which is the primary source of the city’s water.
The 180,000-customer system is plagued with numerous problems, including aging pipes that often freeze and burst during extreme cold snaps. In February 2021 during a prolonged cold period, most of Jackson lost water pressure for multiple weeks.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said earlier this week the extreme cold temperatures expected later this week could cause problems for the city’s water system, though, progress has been made in winterizing the O.B. Curtis Treatment Plant that treats most of the water delivered to the system’s customers.
The spending bill says the funds allocated for work on the water system would be administered by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier this month, a federal judge approved an order for the U.S. Department of Justice to step in and oversee the troubled system. A third-party administrator has been appointed to oversee the system as part of the agreement.
Jordan Downs, chief of staff for 3rd District Rep. Michael Guest, who represent a portion of Jackson, confirmed that the money was placed in the spending bill at the request of the Environmental Protection Agency.
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of the 2nd District, who also represents a large portion of Jackson, has been vocal in advocating for federal funding for the water system. Thompson was not available for comment before publishing time.