Jackson Mayor Calls Mississippi Legislature ‘Racist’ for Ignoring City’s Unresolved $2B Water Issue

Jackson Mayor Calls Mississippi Legislature ‘Racist’ for Ignoring City’s Unresolved $2B Water Issue

Residents of Jackson, Mississippi, say they’re “tired of apologies” from state officials regarding the constant water stoppages and boil water notices.

NBC News reports Jackson residents do not have access to running water after sub-freezing temperatures hit the area leading to frozen and busted pipes. Residents were told to go to one of four locations across the city to pick up water Tuesday afternoon.

“I have spoken to residents who are tired of apologies,” Jackson Mayor Antar Lumumba told reporters Tuesday, saying there’s no telling when this stoppage will end.

“There is no way to prevent what is happening to our water treatment facility. We do not control Mother Nature,” Lumumba added. “We are dealing with an old and crumbling system that continues to offer challenge after challenge.”

The city issued a boil-water notice on Christmas Day and asked residents to turn off faucets and check businesses for water leaks and broken pipes. The mayor thanked crews searching the city for water main breaks and busted pipes while city, state, and federal officials continue to look for solutions to the city’s severely outdated water infrastructure.

Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Armon told reporters that some fire stations in the city do not have running water, but each unit has 500 gallons on hand to fight fires if they occur.

The city has been dealing with issues with its water infrastructure for years. In September, severe rain and flooding shut down a water treatment plant in Jackson, hurting Black businesses in the area.

Jackson’s water infrastructure issues result from systemic racism as the city experienced white flight, with white residents leaving for suburban areas. The city’s population fell 25% between 1980 and 2020, according to MSNBC. Today, Jackson is 83% Black and has a budget of $400 million, but it will need more than $2 billion to fix its water and sewage problems.

Earlier this year, Lumumba called the Mississippi Legislature “paternalistic” and “racist” for ignoring its majority Black capital city’s infrastructure needs.

In October, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves requesting information on how the state plans to use $429 million from the American Rescue Plan to improve the state’s water infrastructure. Additionally, Congress has begun an investigation into the state’s water crisis.