JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Tuesday, dozens of Jackson restaurant owners met with Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba on the city’s ongoing water crisis.
During the meeting, the mayor apologized to the restaurant owners for the inconvenience caused by the water crisis. Many of the owners voiced their concerns about the frequent boil water notices.
“It’s a financial burden that unfortunately is not going to end soon,” said Andy Nesenson, owner of the Iron Horse Grilll.
Lumumba went into detail about some of the long and short-term plans concerning the city’s water. He said the city is working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Water Alliance and the Rural Water Association to prioritize projects at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Facility.
The mayor said two of the biggest issues at the plant are a shortage in specialized workers and scheduled maintenance that has been pushed b ack for decades.
“We may have one of the only water treatment facilities in the country that has a combination, a hybrid of both conventional and membrane water treatment. It takes two years to become an operator, and we have unfortunately let a lot of that knowledge leave the city. Even with the best management in place, if we don’t replace these systems, they’re still going to fail,” the mayor stated.
Lumumba also discussed the current weatherization project to prevent another freeze, which he said was near completion.
Restaurant owners said they are still concerned about the water and the future of their restaurants. However, they said the meeting with the mayor gave them more clarity on how the city is working to fix the issues.
“They’re working immediately to get the boil water notice lifted, and so, that’s what we’re hopeful for, and we want to be a part of the long-term solution. We’re thankful he took the time to address these issues with the Jackson restaurant community,” said Pat Fontaine, executive director of the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association.
The owners also asked about possible reimbursement for the extra expenses and lost revenue during the boil water notices, but the mayor said he would like to put all of the financial resources available toward fixing the current water issues.
When it comes to the current citywide boil water notice, Lumumba said the water samples on Tuesday did come back clear. If the samples come back clear on Wednesday, they would be able to lift the notice.