Feds will appoint manager to oversee Jackson, Mississippi’s public drinking water

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 6:31 PM EST

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A federal court has accepted a proposal by the U.S. Justice Department to appoint an interim third party manager to stabilize the public drinking water system in Jackson, Mississippi.

Read the Department’s court proposal

The city of Jackson and the Mississippi State Department of Health have signed the order for an interim third party and have agreed to the terms.

The request is the latest action taken by the U.S. Department of Justice, which also filed a complaint against the city on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That complaint alleges the city failed to provide drinking water that is reliably compliant with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

“The Department of Justice takes seriously its responsibility to keep the American people safe and to protect their civil rights. Together with our partners at EPA, we will continue to seek justice for the residents of Jackson, Mississippi. And we will continue to prioritize cases in the communities most burdened by environmental harm,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

The Department of Justice said the third party manager would have the authority to:

  • Take charge of the Water Sewer Business Administration, the arm of the city responsible for billing water users;
  • Implement capital improvements to the city’s public drinking water system, in particular, a set of priority projects meant to improve the system’s near-term stability, including a winterization project meant to make the system less vulnerable to winter storms; and
  • Correct conditions within the city’s public drinking water system that present, or may present, an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health of the city’s residents.

Back in on July 29, a boil-water notice was issued for Jackson’s public drinking water system. The next month, the Justice Department said the city proclaimed an emergency after excessive rainfall and extreme flooding prevented the system from delivering any water to the approximately 160,000 persons living within the city and in certain areas of nearby Hinds County who rely on the system. It adds, that caused many residents to have no running water to drink or to use for basic hygiene. The water pressure was restored Sept. 6, and the boil-water notice remained in effect until Sept. 15.

Learn more information about EPA’s efforts in Jackson to date here.