The boil water advisory in Jackson, Mississippi has been lifted for everyone who relies on the water system, Gov. Tate Reeves said at a news conference Thursday.
“On Tuesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health officially began testing water quality. They collected 120 samples over two days in a row. We can now announce that we have restored clean water in the city of Jackson,” said Reeves.
It’s been more than 40 days since the Mississippi Department of Health placed the state capital under a boil water notice in July, adding to Jackson’s ongoing water crisis, compounded by heavy rains in August. The weather and consistent problems with a failed city water plant ultimately left residents unable to use or drink water for weeks.
“While we have restored water quality, the system is still imperfect and we will continue to deal with issues while the state’s response lasts,” he said.
Reeves said more outages are possible in the city’s water system.
The boil water advisory issued at the end of July meant that tap water must be boiled before being used for drinking, cooking, making ice, washing dishes or brushing teeth.
The OB was issued after the Curtis plant’s cloudy water was blamed on high levels of the mineral manganese, “combined with the use of lime,” the city said.
The acute crisis began when heavy rains caused the Perla River to flood, affecting treatment processes when the pumps of the main water treatment plant were already damaged. Residents had to queue for hours to get cases of water for drinking, cooking and even flushing toilets.
The US Environmental Protection Agency said they are investigating the crisis.
“I can confirm that the EPA’s Office of Inspector General has begun sending personnel to Jackson to collect data and conduct interviews,” office spokeswoman Jennifer Kaplan told CNN Sunday. Similar investigations into the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan led to criminal charges and a flurry of lawsuits.
Jackson’s water problems go back years, making boil water advisories almost a reality in Mississippi’s capital. In early 2020, the system failed an EPA inspection that found the drinking water had the potential to host harmful bacteria or parasites.
The city’s water problems are largely systemic, including aging pipes and leaks, sewage system failures and a lack of money to fix the problems, according to a report by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting published in January by the Clarion Ledger.
Factory workers have also been a problem. EPA staff found during a March visit that the city was not adequately staffed for the system, resulting in a failure to perform routine and preventive maintenance.