An EPA investigation concludes that Jackson, Mississippi, drinking water is safe despite continued complaints from residents

This week, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed part of its investigation into the water crisis that affects more than 150,000 residents of Jackson, Mississippi, announcing that water from two municipal water treatment plants has been treated for safe consumption.

Jackson residents and supporters hold signs as they march with members of the Mississippi Poor People Campaign to the governor’s mansion in Jackson, Mississippi to protest against current water problems, poverty and other social problems, October 10, 2022. [AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis]

The announcement comes just over two months after residents of Jackson plunged into a severe social crisis after the Pearl River ridge flooded municipal water treatment plants and damaged most of the old and fragile pipelines neglected for decades. As the city’s plumbing was repaired, the city continued its water boiling advice from the previous month, and then Republican Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency on August 30, which it recently extended to November. 22.

Jackson’s Democratic mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, said on Monday that the EPA had determined that the city now complies with the Safe Drinking Water Act, which regulates public drinking water standards. He said the update was “welcome news”. Lumumba’s words are empty and uncritical of the fact that the EPA will not present its findings on copper and lead levels in the water by mid-November.

The EPA’s determination comes in the wake of the premature lifting of the September 15 boiling recommendation accompanying the city’s resumption of water services, despite reports of coffee-brown and cloudy tap water.

Notices of boiling water have been a staple in Jackson’s residents’ lives in recent years. Years of decay, mismanagement, and corporate looting have made municipal plants and pipes vulnerable to spills, interruptions, and contamination. “[I]the question is not whether these systems fail, but when these systems fail, ”Lumumba fatalistically noted in September.


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