As Mississippi residents continue to struggle with access to safe drinking water, the state’s governor said that 600 Mississippi National Guardsmen will be deployed to Jackson, the state’s capital, to assist with distributing bottled water.
They and other groups are also being brought in to work on the O.B. Curtis Water Plant—one of the city’s two main water treatment facilities—to restore water levels and clean water.
“In the past 48 hours, we’ve installed a new rental pump, contracted with outside operators to do critical maintenance and started other emergency repairs,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves told reporters on Wednesday of the stop-gap measure to restore pressure to the water system. “We’re going to need electricians and mechanics and divers and other skilled operators to complete all of this work. It’s happening.”
“We will have Mississippi National Guard personnel deployed,” Reeves said. “Those deployments will include 600 guardsmen, 123 vehicles, bulk water distribution, bottled water, and hand sanitizer distribution. We will also employ the services of the Mississippi Forestry Commission to help with their Incident Management Assistance Team.”
Emergency Declarations From Governor, BidenHe had declared a state of emergency for Jackson on Tuesday after the O.B. Curtis Water Plant failed on Monday due to longstanding complications exacerbated by a weekend of heavy rain and flooding. Reeves had also urged residents not to drink the water.
He reiterated the message on Wednesday: “Our immediate priority is to have running water, even temporarily sacrificing some quality standards where we absolutely have to fulfill basic sanitary and safety needs. That means we continue to emphasize, ‘Do not drink the water from the pipes if you can avoid it.’ Boil it if you must use the water.”
Biden Administration InvolvementTo supplement the state’s response, the Biden administration late on Tuesday approved a separate emergency declaration over Mississippi’s water crisis and order for federal assistance.
She also said that $450 million had been allocated for water upgrades across the state, with $20 million of that amount allotted to the city of Jackson for water and sewer infrastructure needs, as a provision of the American Rescue Plan, a massive spending bill that Biden signed in March 2021.
“The state has committed to match that commitment. We have also made about $75 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding available this year to provide clean and safe water across the state of Mississippi,” she said Tuesday.
Also, for long-term support, “we announced $300,000 as part of the administration’s Justice40 Initiative for the Army Corps to conduct a validation study to reduce flooding from the Pearl River in Jackson, Mississippi,” she told reporters.