More Water Woes for Mississippi Capital City After Fire at Water Treatment Center

Water pressure dropped Friday in Mississippi’s capital city after a fire broke out at one of Jackson’s two water treatment plants.

The Jackson public works director, Charles Williams, said the fire started about 3:30 a.m. in a control panel, and it caused parts of the O.B. Curtis Water Plant to shut down. That left people with only a trickle of water to take showers or wash dishes with as they got ready for school or work Friday morning. Some restaurants closed.

Firefighters from Jackson and Ridgeland extinguished the blaze before sunrise, and Williams said an investigation continued into the cause.

A contractor was at the plant to make repairs, and power was restored before noon. The entire city was put under a boil water notice. Water pressure was increasing by midday, and Williams said the goal was to refill water storage tanks by Friday night.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said bottled water would be distributed at two sites in the city.

Jackson has about 161,000 residents. A winter storm that coated large parts of the South in snow and ice in February caused machinery at one of Jackson’s water treatment plants to freeze. That left parts of the city without water for weeks, and the entire city remained under a boil water notice for a month because of low pressure.

Lumumba said Friday that he considers the Jackson water system to have been under a state of emergency since February.

“When we have aged systems, it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when we will experience the events and the breakdown of our system,” Lumumba said.