EPA leader: Jackson needs ‘fair share’ of money to fix water

Sep 7, 2022, 2:27 PM | Updated: 2:42 pm
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan discusses elements of a coordinated ...

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan discusses elements of a coordinated response of federal, state and city agencies, that he hopes will help deal with the city's long-standing water problems, during a Wednesday news briefing, Sept. 7, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. Regan met with both Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, and other officials to explore options. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that he wants Mississippi’s capital city to receive “its fair share” of federal money to repair a troubled water system that left homes and businesses without running water for several days.

Even with water flowing from taps and people again able to flush toilets this week, Jackson lacks safe drinking water. The city of 150,000 is in the sixth week of a boil-water advisory from the state health department because of concerns that low pressure could allow contaminants into the water.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan was in Jackson to meet with residents and state and local elected officials Wednesday. He touted the $1 trillion federal infrastructure law that President Joe Biden signed in November.

Mississippi is set to receive more than $4 billion from the law, with most of the money designated for highways and bridges, the White House said. The state’s allocation includes $429 million over five years to improve water systems.

“It’s our desire that the city of Jackson gets its fair share,” Regan said during a meeting with community leaders. “It’s our desire that the city of Jackson doesn’t have to live with what you all have lived with for far too long.”

Jackson’s main water-treatment plant malfunctioned in late August after torrential rain caused flooding along the Pearl River. The influx altered the quality of the raw water entering the plant from a reservoir. That slowed the treatment process, depleted supplies in water tanks and caused a dangerous drop in pressure.

But even before the rainfall, officials said some water pumps had failed and a treatment plant was using backup pumps. A rental pump was installed last week, and the system’s water pressure is back to normal.

Groups are distributing bottled water at drive-thru sites, and restaurants are bringing tanks of clean water from suburbs.

About 25% of Jackson’s residents live in poverty, and the city’s tax base has declined with a sharp decrease in population since 1980 — a change that happened along with mostly white flight that started about a decade after public schools began integrating in 1970.

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson sat with Regan at the community meeting and toured Jackson’s main water plant with the administrator, Gov. Tate Reeves and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. Other members of Mississippi’s congressional delegation also participated in meetings with them about short-term and long-term solutions for the city’s water problems.

“We do know that will require all of us working together to cut through the bureaucracy,” Regan said during a news conference at Jackson State University.

Thompson pointed out during the community meeting that Regan is from North Carolina, which also has a large Black population.

“He understands the challenges, especially (for) communities of color,” said Thompson, the only Black member of Mississippi’s congressional delegation. “Under this current administration, they have taken the fact that many of these communities have been underserved by its government and tried to right the ship.”

Jackson’s water system has been fragile for years, with officials warning that widespread loss of service was possible. A cold snap in 2021 froze pipes and some water treatment equipment, leaving tens of thousands of people without running water. Similar problems happened again early this year, on a smaller scale. The EPA also told Jackson months ago that its water system violates the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris smiles as she holds a bilateral meeting with Australia's Prime Mi...
Associated Press

Harris focuses Asia trip on security, adds tour to Korea DMZ

TOKYO (AP) — In meeting after meeting with Asian leaders Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the U.S. commitment to regional security, and the White House disclosed that she would visit the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas. An official said Harris would tour the border area between South and North Korea on Thursday, at the […]
21 hours ago
First grade teacher Suzy Tom leads a class and demonstrates the order of character strokes at the A...
Associated Press

As Cantonese language wanes, efforts grow to preserve it

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Three decades ago, finding opportunities to learn Cantonese in San Francisco wasn’t hard. But today in the city that’s drawn Cantonese speakers from South China for over 150 years, there’s fear that political and social upheaval are diminishing a language that is a cultural touchstone. The Chinese government’s push for wider […]
21 hours ago
FILE - A customer waits for service at a Optus phone store in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Oct. 7, ...
Associated Press

Australian police probe purported hacker’s ransom demand

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian police were investigating a report that a purported hacker had already released the stolen personal data of 10,000 Optus customers and was demanding a $1 million ransom in cryptocurrency, the telecommunications company’s chief executive said on Tuesday. The Australian government has blamed lax cybersecurity at the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Foes of Arizona voucher expansion likely fail to make ballot

PHOENIX (AP) — A massive expansion of Arizona’s private school voucher system will likely go into effect after public school advocates failed to gather enough signatures to block the law, a conservative think tank that supports the expansion said Monday. The Goldwater Institute, a conservative and libertarian public policy think tank in Phoenix, said Save […]
21 hours ago
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew-member observes a...
Associated Press

Patrol spots Chinese, Russian naval ships off Alaska island

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A U.S. Coast Guard ship on routine patrol in the Bering Sea came across a guided missile cruiser from China, officials said Monday. But it turned out the cruiser wasn’t alone as it sailed about 86 miles (138 kilometers) north of Alaska’s Kiska Island, on Sept. 19. Two other Chinese naval […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Appeals court blocks California ban on for-profit prisons

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A larger panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday again blocked California’s first-in-the-nation ban on for-profit private prisons and immigration detention facilities, finding that it is trumped by the federal government. A three-judge appellate panel last year rejected the 2019 state law that would have phased out […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
EPA leader: Jackson needs ‘fair share’ of money to fix water