On Monday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan again met with Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, this time alongside the U.S. Department of Justice, to plot the next course of action over the city’s water system.
“Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim from the Department of Justice and I met today with Mayor Lumumba to discuss the actions the federal government is prepared to take to help remedy this longstanding injustice,” Regan said in a press release. “During that meeting, I conveyed our desire to work with the City to reach a judicially enforceable agreement that ensures a sustainable water system in the mid- and long-terms.”
The release did not mention the agreement between the EPA and Jackson that’s already in place. The two parties signed an administrative order in 2021, which contains a list of 40 hiring and repair requirements outlined by the federal agency.
Mayor Lumumba recently said the EPA has been flexible in setting deadlines in that agreement. All of the original deadlines have since passed. Mississippi Today reached out to the EPA to ask which of those items the city has met so far, but was told by a spokesperson, “Due to the ongoing enforcement activities, we are unable to provide information related to the city’s compliance status.”
The two parties are also under a court-ordered non-disclosure agreement that prevents them from sharing a “very detailed plan” with a cost estimate for fixing the city’s water system, Jackson officials said recently. The EPA confirmed to Mississippi Today that there is a confidentiality order in place, but didn’t provide further detail.
The press release added that Jackson has issued roughly 300 boil water notices in the last two years.
More boil water notices
Since the state health department lifted the month and a half long boil water notice just 11 days ago, Jackson has since issued new boil water advisories for over 200 customers because of line breaks in the system.
Mayor Lumumba warned residents in early September of line breaks as pressure increases into the worn down distribution system.
City workers, with assistance from the Mississippi Rural Water Association and teams from Maryland, Arkansas, Minnesota and South Carolina, have continued repairs at both of Jackson’s treatment plants. A Monday press release said the crews brought two of the raw water pumps back into service at O.B. Curtis before the weekend.
The city said on Monday that the following areas, including Belhaven, North Jackson, Eastover and Byram, are currently under a boil water notice:
- [1200-2399] North State Street: 39202
- [1600-1899] Pine St.
- [700-799] Euclid St.
- [700-799] Oakwood St.
- [700-799] Fairview St.
- [700-799] Arlington St.
- [700-799] Pinehurst St.
- [700-799] Gillespie St.
- Popcorn Alley
- Park Avenue
- [1300-1399] Peachtree Street: 39202
- [500-522] Golden Eagle Drive, Byram: 39272
- Canyon Cove
- Talon Cove
- [5300-5599] Highland Drive: 39206
- [4300-4599] El Paso Street
- Paso Cove