JACKSON, Miss. -- A failure of a main water treatment plant in the wake of severe flooding last week has left much of the entire town of Jackson, Mississippi without reliable drinking water.
Major flooding on the Pearl River from recent torrential rains severely damaged the town's main treatment plant, creating water pressure issues and leaving the plant unable to supply the city.
"It means the city cannot produce enough water to fight fires, to reliably flush toilets, and to meet other critical needs," said Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.
Both Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Gov. Reeves have declared a state of emergency in Jackson and mobilized local and state resources – including activating the National Guard – to meet the challenge of now providing water to the city's 180,000 residents.
Jackson has been under a boil water notice for weeks, but the recent flooding and torrential rain made issues at the water treatment facility worse with low water pressure and inadequate treatment to clean the water.
"Until it is fixed, it means we do not have reliable running water at scale," Reeves said.
Gov. Reeves: ‘Do not drink the water’
Officials are scrambling to provide distribution stations where residents can now get both drinking water and non-drinking water. Reeves said water is already being provided for firefighting emergencies.
In the meantime, with the treatment plant down, officials are urging residents not to drink any water that still comes from the tap.
"Please stay safe, do not drink the water," Reeves said. "In too many cases, it is raw water from the reservoir being pushed through the pipes."
10 inches of rain in Jackson in 4 days
The Pearl River reached a few inches below major flood stage on Monday after heavy rains over the past several days. Jackson received over 9 inches of rain in two days and a total of over 10 inches over four days. Hundreds fled their homes as water rose to doorsteps and, in some cases, pushed indoors.
Officials do not have an estimate of when the water treatment plant might be repaired, but Mayor Lumumba warned it would likely be at least the next couple of days.
Residents in the area are advised to call the city's 311 line for more information.