Mississippi Gov. Failed to Protect Jackson’s Water

On Monday, you led a rally outside the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson demanding elected officials reverse decades of disinvestment that’s left water unfit to drink in Mississippi’s capital city, where 80% of all residents are African American. Can you talk about the crisis there, another “boil water” order?

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Yeah. And it’s been going on for nearly 50 years. Over 170,000-some residents are without water. And while the city is 82% African American, this is also a dirty, poisonous water for Black people, for disabled people, for white people. We even had a white doctor who suffers from MS talk about, at the rally, how bad this is and what’s going on. Mothers are having to wash their children’s bodies in this water. They do not know what’s in it. The children have not been tested. The water has not been tested. They’re putting Clorox in dirty water.

This is a terrible situation, and it’s an immoral and sinful violation of equal protection under the law and human rights, because at the same time, allegedly, the governor,

— source democracynow.org | Sep 27, 2022

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The Cold War Legacy Lurking in U.S. Groundwater

In America’s rush to build the nuclear arsenal that won the Cold War, safety was sacrificed for speed.

Uranium mills that helped fuel the weapons also dumped radioactive and toxic waste into rivers like the Cheyenne in South Dakota and the Animas in Colorado. Thousands of sheep turned blue and died after foraging on land tainted by processing sites in North Dakota. And cancer wards across the West swelled with sick uranium workers.

The U.S. government bankrolled the industry, and mining companies rushed to profit, building more than 50 mills and processing sites to refine uranium ore.

But the government didn’t have a plan for the toxic byproducts of this nuclear assembly line. Some of the more than 250 million tons of toxic and radioactive detritus, known as tailings, scattered into nearby communities, some spilled into streams and some leaked into aquifers.

Congress finally created the agency that now oversees uranium mill waste cleanup in 1974 and enacted the law governing that process in 1978, but the industry would soon collapse

— source propublica.org | Mark Olalde, Mollie Simon, Alex Mierjeski | Dec. 3, 2022

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Jackson, Mississippi Must Reject Water Privatization

What’s happening in Jackson, Miss., where residents remain under a boil-water advisory after having little to no access to safe water for all of last week, is horrifying. If it weren’t happening in a poor city with a majority Black population, it would be getting the 24/7 news coverage it deserves.

One part of the story that definitely hasn’t been getting enough coverage is the role a multi-billion-dollar corporation played in exacerbating the crisis.

As reported by Judd Legum, Jackson signed a contract in 2013 with a corporation called Siemens to upgrade the city’s water meters and billing system. The multinational conglomerate based in Germany promised there was “no risk” in the deal and that the upgrade would generate $120 million in “guaranteed savings” over the first 15 years.

According to an eventual lawsuit filed by the city, those savings never materialized. Siemens and its web of subcontractors allegedly did shoddy work installing the meters and implementing the new system. The lawsuit claims that “[m]ore than 20,000 water meters were installed incorrectly or were unable to transmit meter readings to the system.”

— source inthepublicinterest.org | Donald Cohen | Sep 9, 2022

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Water Is Dignity

As of September 2, the vast majority of the residents of the city of Jackson, Mississippi—over 150,000—still have no access to safe drinking water. The Jackson water crisis began on August 30 when flooding caused the pumps at the main water treatment facility, O.B. Curtis, to fail. This left most residents without clean water and many with no water at all due to low water pressure. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves warned residents on August 31, “Do not drink the water from the pipes if you can avoid it.”

Water coming out of the pipes in Jackson is discolored and cloudy, if any water comes out at all. On August 31, Jim Craig, senior deputy and director of health protection at the Mississippi Department of Health, told residents to shower with their mouths closed. Apart from being contaminated, the water in Jackson lacks sufficient pressure. Many residents do not have enough water “to fight fires, to reliably flush toilets, and to meet other critical needs,” as Reeves described.

Both President Biden and Governor Reeves declared a state of emergency on August 30, but Jackson has been undergoing periodic water crises for a while. “The water crisis is the

— source peoplesdispatch.org | Natalia Marques | Sep 4, 2022

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This multi-billion dollar corporation exacerbated the water crisis in Jackson

The City of Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, is in crisis. Its 150,000 residents lack access to safe drinking water. Many have not had enough water to bathe or flush their toilets. Those with enough water pressure are being instructed to shower with their mouths closed. Public schools have been closed.

The immediate crisis was brought about by severe flooding, which caused a water treatment plant to fail. But the problems with Jackson’s water supply date back decades.

The integration of public schools in the 1960s prompted an exodus of affluent whites from Jackson, eroding the city’s economic resources. Jackson’s declining economic fortunes also prompted the departure of middle-class Blacks, causing an overall population decline. The city went from over 200,000 people in 1980 to less than 150,000 people today. More than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation, but Jackson is even poorer than the state as a whole. Per capita income is just $21,906.

But while the city’s population and tax base shrunk, it still has 114 square miles of aging water infrastructure to maintain. The state, dominated by Republicans, has been

— source popular.info | Judd Legum | Sep 6, 2022

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Jackson’s Water Crisis Comes After $90M Contract with Siemens

Jackson, Mississippi, the majority-Black city where tens of thousands of residents who went for two to three weeks without water have now had their water restored in most cases. But in videos that have gone viral online, many say it’s brown water that’s coming out of their taps. Meanwhile, the capital city remains under a boil water notice as children return to school.

The latest water crisis stemmed from a flooded water treatment plant but has been decades in the making. As residents look for solutions, Mississippi’s Republican Governor Tate Reeves says, quote, “Privatization is on the table,” unquote. But privatizing Jackson’s water system may be part of what led to the crisis.

I think the brown water is a reflection of the, really, system that’s been deteriorating now for decades. The story that I reported tracked how, starting in 2010, Siemens came to the city of Jackson, who was already suffering under a very faulty water system at that time, and said, “We have a solution. You can pay us $90 million” — it’s the largest contract signed at that time in city history — “We will install these new automated water meters. This will not only pay for itself, but generate extra revenue, which you can invest back into the water system.”

They came to the city offering a solution, but this contract ended up being a disaster. Not only did it not meet their promises, the automated meters didn’t work really at all. Many people stopped getting bills. Those who got bills received ones that were far too high, and did not pay them. And so it created massive deficits, and ultimately led to a lawsuit

— source democracynow.org | Sep 12, 2022

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Jackson, Mississippi’s water disaster is a crime of capitalism

The 150,000 residents of Jackson, Mississippi remain without access to clean drinking water this week following the collapse of the water and sewage system under the pressure of heavy flooding late last month.

While water service has returned to homes and businesses throughout the state’s capital, the city remains under a boil-water advisory that was issued in July, with reports that water remains foul and undrinkable. Residents once again queued in long lines at distribution centers throughout the city Tuesday, picking up bottled water to use for cooking and basic hygiene. Approximately 600 National Guard soldiers have been deployed to the city by Republican Governor Tate Reeves to oversee the distribution.

While tens of thousands have been forced to rely on bottled water or use buckets to collect water from wells in the wealthiest country in the world, Jackson sits on and draws its water from the Ross Barnett Reservoir, the largest source of drinking water in the state.

The ongoing crisis in Jackson is part of a series of disasters in the US, from rolling blackouts in California to routine power outages in Metro Detroit and the water poisoning in Flint. Under conditions where climate change is fueling extreme weather events and pandemics, systematic planning is needed to meet the danger. However, this challenge is met

— source wsws.org | 6 Sep 2022

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Charges Dropped in Deadly Water Scandal That Poisoned Majority-Black City

in Michigan, where on Tuesday the state Supreme Court threw out charges against Republican former Governor Rick Snyder, his former health director and seven other former officials for their role in the deadly Flint water crisis. The court ruled unanimously the judge who issued the indictments lacked authority to do so, because he acted as a, “one-person grand jury.”

Judge Richard Bernstein wrote in a concurring opinion, quote, “The Flint water crisis stands as one of this country’s greatest betrayals of citizens by their government. Yet the prosecution of these defendants must adhere to proper procedural requirements because of the magnitude of the harm that was done to Flint residents,”

In 2014, Flint’s unelected emergency manager, appointed by Governor Snyder, switched the city’s water supply from the Detroit system, which Flint had been using for half a century, to the corrosive Flint River as a cost-saving measure. Soon after, Flint residents complained about discolored, foul-smelling water. First, the water was infested with bacteria. To treat the bacteria, the city poured in chlorine, which created cancerous chemical byproducts. Then a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which is caused by a water-borne bacteria, spread through Flint, killing 12 people, sickening dozens, one of the largest recorded outbreaks in U.S. history. The change in Flint’s water supply also caused widespread lead poisoning in residents, particularly children, in the majority-Black city.

— source democracynow.org | Jun 30, 2022

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