JACKSON, Miss (NewsNation) – Mississippi officials have set up emergency distribution centers for the distribution of water and hand sanitizer in the capital city of Jackson, but did not provide a timeline Thursday for when. Normal and safe water would flow to the residents.
There are about 600 National Guard members who help run seven water points across the city to ensure people receive potable water and non-potable water in bulk.
The sites opened at noon Thursday and will be open daily for water pickup until further notice, according to a press release from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
Residents remain under a boil water order after Pearl River flooding exacerbated longstanding problems at one of the city’s two water treatment plants.
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and Democratic Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said progress was being made on the treatment plan, particularly with the installation of a new pump on Wednesday.
“To everyone in the city: I know you are facing a deeply unjust situation,” Reeves said in remarks aimed at city residents. “It’s frustrating, it’s wrong and it needs to be fixed.”
The water crisis is affecting the city’s 150,000 residents – many of whom were unable to take showers or flush toilets – plus an estimated 30,000 people who come to the city to work in businesses with no pressure to water,” Reeves said.
President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration to Jackson on Tuesday.
Jackson is no stranger to water issues. There have been recorded problems with the city’s water system since it was installed. The first call for water system upgrades was in 1948, but many of those same pipes are still in use today.
In the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its first water system quality warning. Winter storms in 1989, 1994, 2010, and 2024 all caused weeks-long water outages in the city.
Some have blamed decades of disinvestment in Jackson and pundits and city leaders have linked it to systemic racism.
Ashley Tosé, a Jackson resident who is seven months pregnant, told NewsNation that she is worried about her child’s future.
“So I’m going to have a black son.” And to have a city with rundown schools, rundown roads, run out of groceries and no water to drink. Honestly, I don’t even want to bathe my baby in Jackson water,” she said.
It would cost about $1 billion to fix Jackson’s water system and another $1 billion to rebuild the city’s sewer system, CNN reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.