Justice Department strikes temporary deal to fix Jackson, Mississippi's troubled water system

Justice Department strikes temporary deal to fix Jackson, Mississippi's troubled water system
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The United States Department of Justice filed a complaint in court and struck a temporary deal with the city of Jackson, Mississippi on Tuesday to address the water crisis facing its residents. Treatment facility failures and low pressure left hundreds of thousands of people without safe drinking water over the summer. A boil notice was issued on July 29th and lifted on September 15th.

“Today the Justice Department is taking action in federal court to address long-standing failures in the city of Jackson’s public drinking water system,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said. “The Department of Justice takes seriously its responsibility to keep the American people safe and to protect their civil rights. Together with our partners at EPA, we will continue to seek justice for the residents of Jackson, Mississippi. And we will continue to prioritize cases in the communities most burdened by environmental harm.”

The Justice Department explained in a statement that an "Interim Third Party Manager" would be appointed to oversee four key measures:

    • Operate and maintain the city’s public drinking water system in compliance with SDWA, the Mississippi Safe Drinking Water Act, and related regulations;
    • Take charge of the Water Sewer Business Administration, the arm of the city responsible for billing water users;
    • Implement capital improvements to the city’s public drinking water system, in particular, a set of priority projects meant to improve the system’s near-term stability, including a winterization project meant to make the system less vulnerable to winter storms; and
    • Correct conditions within the city’s public drinking water system that present, or may present, an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health of the city’s residents.

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