Lumumba defends city against Reeves’ comments about Jackson’s failure to produce a water system improvement plan

Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), center,...
Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), center, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, right, confer with Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, following a tour the City of Jackson's O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Facility in Ridgeland, Miss.,(Rogelio V. Solis | AP)
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 3:20 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The day after Governor Tate Reeves slammed the city of Jackson, claiming the state had, “never received a real plan” on how to improve Jackson’s fragile water system, Mayor Choke Antar Lumumba fired back on Tuesday in the city’s defense.

In his weekly press briefing, Lumumba showcased several documents, including a formal Strategic Capital Improvement Plan.

The mayor said the plan, emailed to several local, state, and congressional leaders, was an exhaustive list of all of the city’s critical infrastructure needs at the water treatment facility.

“This informed the subsequent request for funding that you see at the water treatment facility. This was actually commissioned, I believe somewhere around 2019, 2018,” the mayor said.

Lumumba also revealed several other documents, including a list of critical repairs that the Environmental Protection Agency identified at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Facility, and a plan submitted to the Hinds County legislative delegation of the city’s needed repairs and estimated costs.

Monday, in his own press conference updating the public about the state’s response to Jackson’s water crisis, Reeves said, “Unfortunately, we’ve never received a real plan from Jackson on how to improve its water system so the state could consider funding it.”

At the time, Reeves said it was time to develop a plan to deal with Jackson’s water in the short and long term.

“I personally believe that we cannot depend upon the city of Jackson to provide that. And, therefore, we are going to work with our state and federal partners and with input from the city to develop both intermediate and long-term plans,” he said. “Obviously, as we move into the intermediate and long-term planning, there’s got to be a serious conversation, and the state legislature will be involved and engaged in that.”

Jackson was again under a national spotlight last week after President Biden approved an emergency declaration, enabling the state to tap into critical resources to respond to the crisis.

The city’s tap water emergency came to a head when Pearl River flooding overwhelmed Jackson’s main water treatment plant.

Throughout the week, the mayor and governor held their own press conferences, with the exception of one uninvited appearance Lumumba made at one of Reeve’s pressers.

While people in Jackson wonder if and when they’ll have clean water, there’s a flood of uncertainty surrounding the future of Jackson’s water system, largely dependent upon the working relationship of the mayor and governor.

The city is asking residents who are experiencing discolored water or who still have no pressure to report it here.

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