Student’s Corner

Jackson, Mississippi, the state capital and home to 150,000 people, suffered from a water crisis since July, with residents struggling to access clean water. The boil water notice began in July after the Health Department found cloudy water and ended on September 15th after nearly seven weeks. The crisis became worse after major flooding of the Pearl River in late August caused one of the city’s two water treatment facilities to fail which also resulted in no or low water pressure, further restricting residents’ access to potable water. 

There were disturbing reports and videos of brown water coming out of taps and the Mississippi National Guard had to be brought in to distribute bottled water, along with other organizations. In addition to Governor Reeves declaring a state of emergency, President Biden issued an emergency declaration which allowed the state access to FEMA aid. The Army Corps of Engineers’ Vicksburg District has also begun assessing the pumps at the failed water treatment plant. 

While the crisis is officially over as the boil water advisory has been lifted and water pressure has returned, there is a lot of work to be done in Jackson and other cities like it to prevent this from happening again. Time and time again we’ve seen disinvestment in infrastructure in majority-Black areas lead to health issues. Who can forget the lead pollution in Flint, Michigan drinking water? 

Mississppi will receive around $429 million dollars from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act just to fix their water and sewage systems while the city of Jackson is expected to receive around $25 million from last year’s American Rescue Plan. There is a concern that Jackson, a city that is 80% Black, may have difficulties accessing state aid due to racism of state government officials. 

Environmental racism has surfaced in many ways throughout the United States, with communities of color more likely to suffer from pollution. It’s incredibly important to invest in infrastructure across the country, especially in areas that have been chronically underfunded, oftentimes cities just like Jackson and Flint.

Written by Sarah Woodams ’24(T5)

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