Jackson restoring water pressure, bracing for main breaks

Jackson restoring water pressure, bracing for main breaks
Mayor Lumumba says the severe winter storm caused serious problems to the city's water system. (Source: WLBT)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson city officials gave an update Monday on the city’s efforts to restore water.

As the city works to restore water to tens of thousands of customers still without service, it is bracing for the potential of water main breaks, something that Public Works Director Charles Williams said Jackson is already seeing.

“We have about 20 now,” Williams said. “We have repaired about six. Crews are out there now. They completed one job on Greymont (Avenue). We’re actively trying to track them as they come in.”

Residents are being asked to call 311 to report breaks. Williams said city crews can repair six-inch lines, while larger breaks would likely have to be patched by contractors.

Monday afternoon, tens of thousands of people are still experiencing low or no water pressure after Jackson’s water treatment facilities went down during last week’s winter storms.

Residents can get non-potable water at Forest Hill High School at 2607 Raymond Rd., or Raines Elementary at 156 N. Flag Chapel Rd. Individuals need to bring containers.

“We know that South Jackson and some parts of West Jackson are completely without water,” Williams said. However, customers in North Jackson are beginning to see water come back online as pressure in the system is increased.

Last week, about 43,000 customers lost water after severe winter weather crippled operations at the O.B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell water treatment facilities.

Equipment at the Curtis plant froze and was unable to produce water. As a result, the city’s water tanks were drained and water pressure fell off.

Complicating matters, because of icy roads, the city ran short on treatment chemicals at Fewell and had to scale back production.

A shipment of chemicals, though, was secured last Thursday and full production there resumed.

“Low pressure is still impacting residents across the city, but we are continuing to see progress,” Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said. “We’re measuring that progress through PSI, the pounds per square inch of water that is being distributed through our water system.

“Today, our PSI is around 80 at Fewell and we are at 67 at O.B. Curtis. We hope to be at 75 by the end of the day and at 85 PSI by tomorrow.”

Lumumba touted public works’ efforts to restore water, saying that pressure in the system has rebounded from a low of 37 PSI last week.

However, the mayor said challenges still lay ahead, including the need to fill the city’s reserve tanks and the potential for main breaks, which could again cause pressure in the system to drop.

“What we are dealing with at this hour is not a failure of individuals who manage the treatment facility but an emergency weather circumstance that created complications within our system.”

When front first came in, it created complications with the system, the intake that took water in from reservoir and began to process it,” he said.

Other equipment at the plant froze up, bringing production there to a stop.

Williams and the mayor hope that the crisis will help shed light on the city’s water infrastructure needs.

Lumumba said it would take approximately $2 billion to completely rebuild the city’s water distribution system, funds that “legacy” cities like Jackson do not have.

The mayor took time at the press conference to call on the feds to step up. “We are long overdue for a major investment from the federal government in city infrastructure,” he said. “That’s why Houston, Austin, Shreveport, Vicksburg, (and) Canton are all dealing with the same thing Jackson is.”

Millions of people across Texas lost water following the same winter storm that ravaged Mississippi. Monday morning, nearly 8.8 million residents in the Lone Star State were still under boil water notices.

“It’s going to take funding and resources,” Williams said. “Hopefully, this will put more light on that.”

Residents who need to report leaks can call 311. Customers experiencing other water-related issues can call one of the numbers listed below:

  • 601.960.1111
  • 601-960-1777
  • 601-960-1781
  • 601-960-1778
  • 601-960-0379
  • 601-960-1779

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