Jackson water crisis improving, but still not fixed
Ty Carter, right, and Benjamin Williams, with Garrett Enterprises, fill up a five-gallon jug for an area resident from a water tanker at Forest Hill High School in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tanker, is one of two placed strategically in the city to provide residents non-potable water. The recent flood worsened Jackson's longstanding water system problems and the state Health Department has had Mississippi's capital city under a boil-water notice since late July. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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While the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, is improving, the environmental incident still affects thousands of Black residents. Recent flooding wreaked havoc on the city’s already-impaired water system, leaving thousands of people in the majority-Black city without safe drinking water.

Since July, the city had been under a water-boil advisory, due to health concerns about the cloudy tap water. The Health Department stepped in to address digestive problems which could stem from the drinking water.

Meanwhile, many are blaming the water crisis squarely on environmental racism. Jackson, Mississippi, is a city whose population is 80% Black and Brown.

According to multiple news outlets, Jackson lacks the financial resources to address its crumbling infrastructure. This, in turn, affects the city’s water distribution and access to clean and safe drinking water. 

According to Dr. Colin Jerolmack, professor of sociology and environmental studies at NYU, “[Jackson] is a disproportionately Black city where people knew there was a problem.” Yet the city did not spend the money to fix it.

Dr. Jerolmack continued, “It’s a result of a legacy of racism. You could draw a straight line [from] prior racist acts, such as discrimination, to environmental racism.”

The Jackson water crisis echoes yet another environmental incident that occurred in a majority-Black city, Flint, Michigan. The Flint water crisis has put thousands of citizens at risk of lead contamination, particularly young children. 

Yet Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves insists that the water crisis is slowly resolving. In a news conference on Monday, Reeves stated, “Today, the tanks are full. Water pressure is solid.”

Meanwhile, water pressure was only one of the issues facing the city. Recently flooding across Mississippi affected the city’s primary water treatment facility. 

According to Reeves, the flooding meant, “the city cannot produce enough water to fight fires, to reliably flush toilets, and to meet other critical needs.” Indeed, the city’s water pressure went down to critically low levels, in addition to the water-boil advisory. 

However, the water pressure is finally back up, meaning some residents can go back to business as usual. Schools, which had been closed due to health concerns from the lack of water, are now back in session. 

According to Reeves, “while there may be more bad days in the future, we have, however, reached a place where people in Jackson can trust that water will come out of the faucet. People in Jackson can trust the toilets can be flushed.”

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...