Jackson, MS

Jackson water crisis: How malfunctioning infrastructure & inadequate resources are jeopardizing lives

Edy Zoo

JACKSON, MS. - Since the summer of 2020, Jackson, Mississippi, has been in the throes of a water crisis that has received national attention. For weeks, the O.B. Curtis Water Plant failed and left over 150,000 residents without clean water—a harrowing reality that disproportionately affects people of color in the city. Nearly 83% of Jackson's population is Black, making them most vulnerable to the long-term consequences of this crisis

For decades, Jackson's water system has been failing its citizens due to a lack of reliable infrastructure and resources to address their needs. In addition, inadequate maintenance practices have left households with unreliable sewage systems, contaminated water supplies, and costly utility bills. As a result, the city is reeling from a broken water system, causing substantial hardship for residents.

Unfortunately, since donations dwindled and volunteers became harder to find months ago, it has become even more difficult for residents to access necessities such as food and sanitation. To make matters worse, grassroots organizations can now not provide necessary aid due to dwindling resources and donations—a stark contrast from earlier this year when Operation Good was distributing 700 cases of bottled water per day during peak demand.

The long-term consequences are equally devastating; research shows that chronic lead exposure can cause irreversible damage throughout a person's lifespan, including decreased intelligence quotient (IQ) scores in children who test positive for lead poisoning. The inability to access quality drinking water also contributes significantly to poor health outcomes; according to WaterAid America, an estimated 37% of children under five years old are likely suffering from diarrhea because they lack access to safe drinking water in Jackson alone.

It is heartbreaking that so many people have been living without basic human rights like clean running water for so long—and yet no real solutions have been implemented or proposed by elected officials who are supposed to serve their constituents' best interests. 

However, it is not enough to acknowledge these problems; we must also work together towards tangible solutions that ensure our neighbors in Jackson have access to clean drinking water and quality education and health care services, which are essential ingredients for any prosperous society in the world.

There needs to be a collective effort on all levels—including state governments stepping up with financial support while local organizations take on responsibility for delivering services—to create lasting change amidst this dire situation facing many Jackson residents today. 

This should be taken as an urgent call to action and an opportunity for us all to recognize our collective humanity to take action against systemic injustices happening in our backyard every day until we truly see Jackson's citizens get the resources they deserve.

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Edy Zoo is an author who writes about social subjects. He contributes to the ever-growing library of social critics. He approaches local social subjects and local news covering Auburn-Opelika and surrounding cities from an objective point of view. He also holds liberal views.

Auburn, AL

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