What to know Jackson, MS water crisis: State of emergency, Biden addresses, boil advisory

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The capital of Mississippi is in the middle of a water crisis.

Jackson has been thrown into national headlines as water treatment plants fail, and President Joe Biden calls a state of emergency for the community a day after Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves called one.

This comes after days of excessive rain and flooding caused pumps to fail at one of the town's water treatment plants and has left residences and businesses experiencing low water pressure and being under a boil water notice for a month.

"Do not drink the water," was the message that Reeves put out.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 150,000 people in Jackson were without consistent safe drinking water.

Here's what you need to know about the water crisis.

What's happening in Jackson, Mississippi?

Central Mississippi faced excessive amounts of rain and flooding last week and through the weekend and while it was predicted many homes and structures would be safe from flooding, the water treatment plant in Jackson failed.

Flooding of the Pearl River brought about by the excessive rainfall, and exacerbated by climate change, caused problems at one of the town’s two water-treatment plants, causing the pumps to fail. Low water pressure has left many without water to drink, brush teeth or flush toilets.

For decades, Jackson has been dealing with an outdated and failing water system. The Clarion Ledger highlighted issues of boil advisories, flooding into the Pearl River, a fire and the finding of lead in the community's water.

In 2015, high levels of lead were found in the city’s drinking water. From June 21, 2015, to May 28, 2021, Jackson sampled its water for lead 1,352 times. Of those samples, 66% contained lead, according to records examined by the Clarion Ledger.

Any amount of lead is harmful.

Water buckets, boil notice: Crumbling infrastructure leaves water buckets, boil water notices, as a way of life for some in Jackson

Related: A look back at Jackson, Mississippi's ongoing issue with water

The Governor of Mississippi and President Joe Biden's state of emergency

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced late Tuesday night that President Biden approved an emergency declaration for the Jackson water crisis.

Biden's emergency declaration will scramble federal resources to assist local and state officials. Emergency protective measures, the White House said, will be provided at 75% federal funding for a period of 90 days.

"The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population," a White House press release said.

The White House's declaration comes on the coattails of Reeves's announcement on Tuesday night.

In Reeves' declaration, he issued an emergency order directing the state’s Emergency Management Agency to install an “Incident Command Center” at the city’s O. B. Curtis water treatment plant near the reservoir. With the intent of making emergency repairs to the system.

Dr. Daniel Edney, state health officer, said water testing conducted by the Mississippi State Health Department over the past month has determined the water currently provided by Jackson is unsafe.

EPA addresses water issues: 'We see the threat:' EPA gives Jackson timeline to begin addressing city's water issues

Is what's happening in Jackson anything like the Flint, Michigan water crisis?

Jackson is a predominately Black community with more than 153,000 residents, 82.5% of which are Black, according to the U.S. Census.

“It's shameful. There is no question in my mind that if Jackson was 70% white, there would be a greater investment in water infrastructure,” said Andre M. Perry, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and author of “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities," in a USA Today article.

And it has some wondering about racial equity concerns and drawing parallels to another Black community facing an ongoing water crisis, Flint, Michigan.

Aaron Packman, Northwestern University environmental engineering professor, stated that there should be multiple mechanisms in place to protect drinking water supply, so when a crisis like Jackson’s happens, it signifies multiple failures.

In Flint, “people were not listened to,” he said. “And I'm not sure that this importance of governance, of shared responsibility for safe water, has been learned well enough.”

This article originally appeared on USATNetwork: What's happening Jackson, MS? Water crisis, state of emergency, more