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Catholic Charities distributes water bottles in Jackson

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Shutterstock | Zoteva

J-P Mauro - published on 09/03/22 - updated on 09/03/22

As the water crisis continues in Jackson, Mississippi, the mayor warns that repairs and needed updates are estimated at $2 billion.

Catholic Charities Jackson is among the organizations that are sending drinkable water to the flooded Mississippi town. While the aid is welcome in this time of crisis, continuing floods and a bleak prognosis for Jackson’s water treatment systems have residents worried for their city’s future.

No clean water

More than 150,000 residents of Jackson found themselves without clean water after the Pearl River, which runs through the city, flooded and overwhelmed the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant. According to a report from Time, the plant was already in dire straits, as its main pump went down in July. Due to this system failure Jackson residents had been on a “boil-water notice” for over a month.

The city’s water woes have been a persistent concern to residents for several years, with 2021 being particularly hard on the population. The Guardian reports that Jackson’s water was so bad last year that residents were under orders to boil all tap water for 225 days.

The quality of the water is so low officials have even warned residents not to open their mouths while showering.

Relief

Catholic Charities has joined the relief effort in the last two days, distributing bottles of water to Jackson. Speaking to CNA, a representative from the non-profit explained:

“Currently, the Catholic Charities Disaster Response team is assisting displaced families as a result of Pearl River flooding and coordinating with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MSEMA) to become a distribution site for water.”

Photos posted to Catholic Charities Jackson’s Facebook page show a team of dedicated workers hauling pallets of water into trucks for distribution. They also noted that all of the water has to be purchased, and encourage well-wishers to donate to the cause.

“Quick fix”

CNN has comments from Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, who earlier this week declared a state of emergency and activated the national guard. Reeves called the water distribution sites a “top priority,” and directed citizens to seven sites that are already operational. Reeves noted that they’re still contending with subpar water quality:

“There have been some challenges with the sensors that are measuring the pH balance of the water coming into the facility,” Reeves said, adding, “We think there is a potential for a relatively quick fix on that to get those sensors accurate,” before again cautioning residents against drinking the city’s tap water.

With temperatures exceeding 90 degrees while Jackson is without running water, a quick fix would be welcome. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, however, warned that a permanent solution to Jackson’s dated and failing water infrastructure is needed. Crux notesthat Lumumba shared an estimate of $2 billion for the entirety of the needed water plant repairs and updates.

Bishop comments

Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Diocese of Jackson hailed the efforts of Catholic Charities and Jackson’s officials for their efforts through this crisis. He told CNA that he was offering prayers for a speedy solution:

“We are pleased that President Biden, Governor Tate Reeves and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba are working together to address the water situation in Jackson,” Kopacz said in a statement to CNA. “We pray for long-term solutions to this problem, and a swift response to get water flowing back into all Jackson homes and businesses.”

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