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Weeks-long boil water notice lifted in Mississippi capital

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A member of the National Guard places a case of water behind a automotive on the State Fair Grounds in Jackson, Mississippi, on September 2, 2022.

Seth Herald | AFP | Getty Images

A boil-water notice was lifted Thursday in Mississippi’s capital city after nearly seven weeks, Gov. Tate Reeves and Jackson officials said.

“We’ve got restored clean water,” Reeves said during a news conference.

But a state health department official, Jim Craig, said concerns remain about copper and lead levels within the Jackson water. Craig said people should proceed to avoid using city water to organize baby formula.

Emergency repairs are still underway after problems at Jackson’s predominant water treatment plant caused most customers to lose service for several days in late August and early September.

Problems began days after torrential rain fell in central Mississippi, altering the standard of the raw water entering Jackson’s treatment plants. That slowed the treatment process, depleted supplies in water tanks and caused a precipitous drop in pressure.

When water pressure drops, there is a possibility that untreated groundwater can enter the water system through cracked pipes, so customers are told to boil water to kill potentially harmful bacteria.

But even before the rainfall, officials said some water pumps had failed and a treatment plant was using backup pumps. Jackson had already been under a boil-water notice for a month since the state health department had found cloudy water that might make people ailing.

The National Guard and volunteer groups have distributed hundreds of thousands of bottles of drinking water in Jackson since late August.

Jackson is the biggest city in certainly one of the poorest states within the U.S. The town has a shrinking tax base that resulted from white flight, which began a few decade after public schools were integrated in 1970. Jackson’s population is greater than 80% Black, and about 25% of its residents live in poverty.

Like many American cities, Jackson struggles with aging infrastructure with water lines that crack or collapse. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, a Democrat in a Republican-led state, said the town’s water problems come from a long time of deferred maintenance.

Some equipment froze at Jackson’s predominant water treatment plant during a chilly snap in early 2020, leaving hundreds of shoppers with dangerously low water pressure or no water in any respect. The National Guard helped distribute drinking water. People gathered water in buckets to flush toilets. Similar problems happened on a smaller scale earlier this yr.

Jackson continuously has boil-water notices due to lack of pressure or other problems that may contaminate the water. Among the mandates are in place for under a couple of days, while others last weeks. Some only affect specific neighborhoods, actually because of broken pipes in the realm. Others affect all customers on the water system.

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