Ag commissioner floats idea of supplying water to downtown, Capitol complex through $9M well water system

Andy Gipson says talks about expanding water coverage to portion of Jackson came after discovering aquifer for fairground well
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 6:23 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - While most of the Capital City remains under a boil water notice, the Mississippi State Fairgrounds isn’t because the facility has been on well water since December 2021, an investment that cost more than a million dollars for Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson to implement.

Gipson said they’re exploring the possibility of providing well water beyond the fairground’s fences in hopes of finding a solution to Jackson’s water woes, something he first got engineers to research months ago.

“I had them look at what would it take to tie that well to the downtown area. Is it sufficient to provide water for the downtown Capitol Complex, for the nerve center of the state of Mississippi?” Gipson said. “When the water goes out, not only do we risk not being able to have water to drink or water to flush commodes, but our servers can go down. Information technology can be at risk.”

The initial cost, Gipson said, would be about $9 million to tie the well at the fairgrounds to an existing well at the Mississippi Department of Transportation building and connect all the lines downtown, too.

“What it would take to make that happen is an elevated municipal water tank like you see in most cities, large enough to send pressure up that hill,” Gipson said, referencing the elevation shift less than a block away. “And I have offered to give them the site to put it right here on the fairgrounds if they want to do that. It’s available.”

The ag commissioner said this isn’t something he can spearhead because they don’t have authority to run lines through the city or tie into MDOT’s system.

It requires legislative buy-in, too, which Mississippians won’t likely see until the next session in January.

“We’re sitting on an underground reservoir right here. It’s a massive aquifer underground, plenty of water for the future of this city,” Gipson said. “We hope Jackson can get the water problems fixed, but sometimes we just, we can’t wait, we got to have water.”

This project would not, however, provide water to the entire city.

If implemented fully, it would provide water needs to the CCID, which includes portions of Jackson State, all of Belhaven, and most of Fondren, but makes up less than eight percent of the Capital City.

Gipson said they have used their own well water system for every single event at the fairgrounds since the start of the year.

He said he also plans to have additional parking for the state fair in October on the recently razed Dennery’s restaurant property on Greymont Street.

Demolition crews are evaluating how to bring down the OYO Hotel safely, too.

Gipson said they still are working to reach a deal with the owner of the Regency Hotel and Conference Center, too, but thus far, those negotiations have not been successful.

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