‘Things are looking up’: Jackson mayor says system recovering days into latest water crisis

Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 3:41 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson’s water treatment plants are producing around 55 million gallons a day, and water pressure throughout the system is up, a sign the city could be coming out of its latest water crisis.

Even so, Jackson remains under a city-wide boil water notice, and several businesses remain closed due to a lack of water.

“Our goal is to try to get pressure stable, samples pulled and tested and the precautionary [boil water] notice lifted by Saturday,” Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said at a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon. “Now, I will say that is a bit of an ambitious goal, but, nonetheless, that is what we are focused on making happen at this time.”

As of Wednesday morning, pressure at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant was close to 75 PSI, or pounds per square inch. For all customers to have water, pressure needs to be in the 80s.

Until then, many customers farthest away from the plant, including those in South Jackson and Byram, as well as customers at higher elevations, are still experiencing little to no water pressure.

Meanwhile, Lumumba said crews were still on the ground making repairs and said between 20 and 25 active water leaks had been identified across the city.

“A significant leak was found this morning on the well system, that once repaired, should get that system repressurized,” he said. “Once the pressure is stable, we will do the required testing and hopefully be able to lift that precautionary notice by the week’s end as well.”

“Things are looking up,” he said.

A sign on the door of the Hickory Pit in North Jackson informs patrons the barbecue restaurant...
A sign on the door of the Hickory Pit in North Jackson informs patrons the barbecue restaurant would be closed Wednesday and Thursday due to the water crisis.(WLBT)

Tuesday night, the city enlisted the help of the Mississippi State Department of Health to launch thermal-imaging drones to help locate main breaks.

It was not known if those breaks mentioned by the mayor were discovered using that technology.

The mayor says the city’s recovery has likely been aided by people heeding the third-party administrator’s request to turn off dripping water faucets.

Many residents left their taps barely running during the last few days, as an arctic blast pushed through the metro area, bringing with it more than two consecutive days of sub-freezing temperatures.

“We need to continue to conserve water where we can, to accelerate the recovery process,” Lumumba said. “We are still looking for the public to report leaks [and] open fire hydrants where they see them... As I stated yesterday, we do not want any resident to assume that because there is an active leak running down the street that someone has already reported it.”

Daily water production during Christmas water crisis (in gallons)J.H. FewellO.B. CurtisTotal Gallons
December 2212.8M37.1M49.9M
December 2314.8M36.1M50.9M
December 2417.3M35.1M52.4M
December 2519.3M32.9M52.2M

The mayor fielded several questions from reporters, including whether Jackson was still having problems at its call center. WLBT reported on Tuesday that some residents were unable to get through to Jackson’s 311 Action Line, despite being directed to call the number if they couldn’t drive to water distribution sites themselves.

“We have had some issues with that,” Lumumba said. “We’ve had fluctuating staffing with that and should be able to accommodate most of those calls at this time.”

“A lot of the staff that helps with 311, you know, may also double with some of the people that helped coordinated the water distribution efforts.”

Lumumba also was asked why the city no longer had a distribution site in Byram. Earlier this week, bottled water was distributed to Byram customers at Davis Road Park. Despite being in a different municipality, Byram customers are served by Jackson water.

“I would have to talk to the boots on the ground to see why that is not a location today,” the mayor said. “It may be due to demand, I don’t know. But I would ask for the opportunity for me to gather information before I report anything inaccurate.”

He told reporters that anyone served by Jackson’s water system is able to visit the remaining sites, which include Candlestick Park, Metrocenter Mall and near Smilow Prep, a charter school at the corner of Northside Drive and Manhattan Road.

“We do want to make it as convenient as possible to people, and there may be a justification as to why Byram is no longer on the list, but they are welcome to join the other locations if need be.”

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