EPA sent Jackson emergency administrative order on water system

Updated: Apr. 7, 2021 at 7:47 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - There are alarming new details about the condition of Jackson’s water treatment system.

We’ve learned that over a year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency sent an emergency administrative order demanding the city fix the water system or face hefty fines.

Documents show this emergency administrative order was sent to the city last March. We’ve heard city officials talk about the EPA inspecting the water treatment plants and this report details what they found.

The EPA report was critical saying Jackson’s water treatment plants were being mismanaged, had routine equipment failures, vital positions to monitor water treatment were not staffed which could lead to water contamination.

The report also said that plant conditions present imminent and substantial endangerment to the people served by the system.

It also said that turbidity disinfection treatment concerns condition of the system has potential for presence of e.coli in the water. City council members, who just learned about the report a year after it was sent to the city, were alarmed.

Councilman Kenneth Stokes said that with all the problems the city’s having with the water system, it may be better to have someone else manage it.

Stokes said, “If the city cannot run it properly and we’re going to experience these water problems every winter where people are going weeks and months without water, then we need to do something different. If something different means we need to get private companies in here to run our water plant, then so be it.”

The city is making nearly $5 million in repairs at both of their water treatment plants. Some city leaders now wonder if the system failure during the ice storm could have been avoided, if only they knew what the EPA had found.

Councilman Ashby Foote said, “It was a great wake up call for the City of Jackson, ordered by the EPA for the emergency that might lie ahead and sure enough we got hit by that emergency, shut down the water system for weeks in some areas of Jackson. Really disrupted the livelihood and quality of life for our citizens, and the city had been warned about that but the council that had not been warned about it and that’s really disappointing.”

Mayor Lumumba sent a letter to the EPA last year promising to follow their guidelines and make repairs. Members of the council hope to have a healthy discussion about that and why they were kept out of the loop at next weeks council meeting.

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