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Jackson water woes exacerbated by cold blast, broken pipes

January 24, 2022 GMT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Parts of Mississippi’s capital city have had little or no water pressure in recent days because of broken pipes and problems at a water treatment plant.

Areas with higher elevation in south Jackson have been most affected. Problems started Thursday after a major water main broke, and other water lines have broken since then, WLBT-TV reported.

On Monday, low water pressure forced four Jackson public schools to have classes online instead of in person and students from four elementary schools were sent to other campuses.

City engineer Charles Williams told news outlets he expects crews to make significant progress in restoring service this week.

“We are seeing improvements and will continue to see those improvements over the next couple of days,” Williams said during a news conference Monday. “We just ask for patience from our residents. We know they’re frustrated with this, especially in south Jackson.”

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Multiple pipes broke when temperatures dropped below freezing. The city had problems with a membrane system at a treatment plant, which delayed the crews’ ability to fully restore water pressure to all residents, WAPT-TV reported.

Aging infrastructure has been a problem for years in Mississippi’s largest city. When an arctic blast hit large parts of the South in early 2021, equipment froze at a Jackson water treatment plant, leaving thousands of people without water. Many restaurants were forced to close for days, and the city distributed bottled water to residents. Even after service was restored, people were told to boil water for weeks because of low pressure.

Tye Tripp and Ed Cole, who live in the Forest Hill subdivision in south Jackson, told WLBT on Sunday that they had no water and had to go to other people’s homes to shower or brush their teeth.

“You can’t flush, you can’t wash dishes, you can’t wash clothes, you can’t do anything,” Cole said.

Tripp said it’s especially frustrating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hand washing is very important, bathing is very important, and sanitizing is very important,” she said. “We don’t have the essential need — water — to be able to do those things.”