Federal agencies step in to assist Jackson water issues

JACKSON, Miss. (WCBI) – Federal agencies are stepping in to help solve Jackson’s water problems.

The Environmental Protection Agency Administrator is in town for the second time this month.

This time he is here with a specific set of requests.

A key point to clarify here is that this latest step by the feds is not just tied to the most recent water crisis.

The letter they sent the city details violations that extend to the ongoing water problems.

“The people of Jackson, like all people in this country deserve access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water. They also deserve more than words. They deserve action, you deserve action,” said EPA administrator Michael Regan.

As of now, the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency are stepping in to make sure those actions happen.

“We are trying to bring all parties together with a common agreement that could have, you know, a judicial referee ensure that none of the politics none of the starts and stops, prevent us from as quickly as possible rebuilding this system and providing safe, affordable, reliable drinking water. So we’re charting a path forward. That’s quite different than any discussion we’ve had up to today,” said Regan.

Regan and the Assistant Attorney General met with Mayor Chokwe Lumumba Monday to discuss what is found within this letter.

Details of what is next still have to be hammered out, but a third party will likely step in to at least temporarily manage the city’s water system.

“At the end of the day, we would like for the city of Jackson to maintain control over their water system, we would like for this water system to remain public,” said Mayor Lumumba.

A total of six violations are referenced in this letter ranging from a failure to adequately staff the water treatment plants to allowing contaminant and turbidity levels to be higher than allowed.

“I just want to be clear that the city of Jackson above anyone recognizes our limitations, right. And in recognition of those limitations, we don’t reject the notion of assistance. We don’t reject the notion of even a third party coming in for operations and maintenance,” said Lumumba.

The first step is an attempt to reach what they are calling a “judicially enforceable agreement”.

If that does not happen, the city could face legal action from the feds.

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