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Jackson, Mississippi Issues Christmas Boil Order After Water Lines Break In Freezing Temperatures

 The already embattled city of Jackson, Mississippi issued another boil water notice to residents as a dangerous winter storm swept across the country this week.

In a public announcement on Christmas Day, city officials in Jackson urged residents to boil city water because of low water pressure in the city’s pipes. Officials attributed the pressure losses to breaks in water lines caused by frigid temperatures from a winter storm that blanketed 37 U.S. states between Wednesday and Sunday. Jackson’s water system has been the center of attention this year after mismanagement produced multiple water crises.

“Due to the loss of system pressure, the City of Jackson Water/Sewer Utilities Division has issued a precautionary boil water advisory until further notice for ALL SURFACE WATER CONNECTIONS,” the city said in a statement Sunday. “This advisory includes surface water connections in Byram and Hinds County. The system has lost pressure due to breaks in the distribution system that have not been identified. Some areas may be experiencing little to no water pressure. The O.B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell Water Treatment Plants will continue to work to maximize production to restore pressure to as much of the system as possible.”

“Please check your businesses and churches for leaks and broken pipes, as these add up tremendously and only worsen the problem,” the city said in a separate statement, via the Associated Press. “We understand the timing is terrible.”

Temperatures in Jackson dropped into the teens and 20s this week. According to The WeatherChannel, the low temperature on Thursday night was 11 degrees. Temperatures on Friday ranged from a high of just 23 to a low of 15. On Saturday, the high reached just 33, with a low of 17. The rapid freeze was part of a “once in a generation” winter storm that swept most of the country, from the mountain West to the Great Lakes and the Midwest, to Appalachia, and up through New England, this week.

The city reported fluctuating water pressure all weekend. According to AP, production slowed at one of the water treatment plants in the city because of water line leaks and breaks. Some neighborhoods said they had little or no water pressure on Christmas Eve, the outlet reported.

The latest failure comes months after the water system in Jackson failed because of flooding of the Pearl River in August. Multiple water pumps at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant failed after severe storms caused the Pearl River to flood, prompting low water pressure and a risk of bacterial infection, a press release from the Mississippi Department of Health explained at the time.

Jackson’s water supply has faced multiple interruptions over the past several decades. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of noncompliance to city leadership for not “repairing and maintaining equipment necessary to reliably produce drinking water.”

Residents of Jackson filed a class-action suit against the city in September, arguing that the August failure of the water system was the result of decades of mismanagement and neglect by city officials and engineers. The water system failure led to residents lacking water to drink or cook with, as well as do household cleaning and laundry, or even use the toilet, the suit alleged. The residents further claimed that the remaining water supply was tainted, and did not meet up to federal standards.

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