Connecting Waterpeople

Biden approves emergency declaration in Mississippi after water treatment plant fails

  • Biden approves emergency declaration in Mississippi after water treatment plant fails

Biden’s administration has approved an emergency declaration for a water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, after the drinking water system in the city failed, reports Reuters.

Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and residents in the area – about 180,000 – were warned not to drink tap water due to a breakdown in a water treatment plant.

The problem plant had been suffering from understaffing and poor maintenance, and the breakdown was prompted by floodwater as record rainfall hit the area last weekend. Local and state officials have blamed each other for the poor condition of the plant, a result of years of mismanagement. Even before the current events, city residents were under a boil water alert due to high turbidity.

The area receives its drinking water from two water treatment plants, the OB Curtis plant which has broken down, treating 50 m gallons per day, and the Fewell plant, normally producing 20 m gallons per day, now increased to 30 m gallons. Water pressure dropped in the entire water system, and officials did not know how many homes were affected. The state said residents may have to go without running water indefinitely while repairs are made.

Water is being distributed to residents with tankers, as well as bottled water. Schools in the area had to close, moving classes online, and restaurants struggled to stay open, while supermarkets run out of bottled water supplies.

With the declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is authorised to coordinate disaster relief efforts, specifically, to mobilize equipment and resources to mitigate the impacts of the emergency with federal funding. According to a White House statement, “Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding for a period of 90 days”.

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