The city of Jackson, Mississippi, was left without a reliable water supply on Monday after rain and flooding drove the Pearl River to dangerous levels, officials said.
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba declared a state of emergency on Monday evening over the complications of the Pearl River flooding. He said problems at the OB Curtis Water Plant resulted in low or no water pressure for many residents.
“The water shortage is likely to continue for the next few days,” the city said in a statement pronunciation.
Jackson, the state’s capital and largest city, had water problems before the rains sparked fears of Pearl River flooding.
The city has been under a boiling water report since last month as tests found cloudy quality of the water supplied by the city that could hinder the disinfection process and lead to illness.
Governor Tate Reeves said at a news conference Monday evening that the city’s water system was unable to produce enough water.
“Until it’s resolved, that means we don’t have reliable, scale-up running water,” Reeves said. “It means the city can’t produce enough water to fight fires, reliably flush toilets and meet other critical needs.”
Floods in Jackson, a city of about 153,000, were less severe than feared after the state received record rainfall, officials said.
The Pearl River was expected to remain at just over 35 feet, but began to slowly recede Monday night, the National Weather Service said.
“The good news is that water levels are lower than expected,” Lumumba said earlier at a briefing Monday, adding that only one home was believed to have entered at the time.
But river water that in what he said was an already “very fragile water treatment facility” meant it had to be treated differently and resulted in a reduction in the water going into the system, he said.
“This is a challenge for the entire city that they are trying to recover from,” Lumumba said.
Reeves said there would be emergency declarations from the state in addition to those issued by the city.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency would distribute water to residents, and the state would also be in charge of an effort to initiate emergency repairs and maintenance to get the water flowing again, Reeves said.
State Health Officer Daniel Edney said at a news conference: “The water is not safe to drink. In fact, I would say it is not safe to brush your teeth – because we are not seeing adequate chlorination and an inability to consistently clean the water.” disinfect.”
Residents should fully boil the water for at least three minutes, he said.
Reeves said the city’s main water treatment plant had been operating “without redundancies” or back-up systems, and the main pumps had recently been damaged.
Jackson Public Schools said that all classes would shift to virtual learning and that there would be no in-person instruction from Tuesday due to the water shortage.
The Associated Press contributed.