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Public Works prepares water system for colder weather; City to remain in crisis mode for next few years

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 10:34 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - City Engineer Charles Williams said the city has worked hard to make improvements to its water system ahead of the colder months.

Many West and South Jackson residents were left without water last winter as frigid temperatures crippled the city’s water operations. Williams said his team has learned a lot since then.

“I’m confident that we’ll be better prepared, but, obviously, we can’t control the weather,” Williams said. “Our system is aged, and it can respond differently during different crises.”

Right now, he said crews are working to enclose the filtration systems at the O.B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell Water Treatment Plants. Additionally, the Public Works Department is upgrading two of those filtration systems and winterizing some of the equipment.

“That’s going to help us continually provide water to the city - even if we were to have another winter storm come through - and basically control the seasonal climates as it relates to cold weather by having an enclosure,” he said.

But Williams said the city isn’t out of crisis mode just yet. He said that will continue to be the case until both plants are fully up and operational and significant upgrades are made to the distribution system.

“It’s going to take an investment over the next couple of years,” he said. “Nothing can really be done overnight because it’s so much of a magnitude that needs to be upgraded.”

Williams said the city secured a little over $30,000,000 in funds from outside agencies to assist with repairs.

The bulk of it came from a State Revolving Fund loan that will go toward restoring the water system. He said $3,000,000 of it came from the state to go towards the J.H. Fewell Plant.

Additionally, he hopes for some assistance from the federal infrastructure bill to go towards both water plants as well as the water distribution system.

“I do think that the plants will obviously benefit first. But still, it’s the distribution system. We have a distribution system that’s aged, and we have a very large urban city,” he said. “It’s going to take some time.”

He said the Mississippi Department of Health and Environmental Protection Agency will assist in making those improvements.

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