President Biden declared a federal emergency in Jackson, Mississippi after over 180,000 residents of the majority-Black city are without reliable running water for an “indefinite” period.

Officials cut off water when the city’s main water treatment facility, the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant, was flooded and pumps failed this week. The city’s website notes that it remains under a boil water notice as of Wednesday. To address some water needs, the city has distributed cases of bottled water.

In an interview with Democracy Now, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba stated that the current emergency is the result of “three decades’ worth of challenges” in bringing state and federal resources to Mississippi’s capital city.

“This has been a combination of accumulated challenges over the course of time,” he told the independent news outlet. “I liken it to a vehicle. If you’re changing the oil regularly, if you’re rotating the tires, if you’re giving it its tune-up, then it’s likely to function better,” he said.

Mayor Lumumba added:

[When maintenance] has not taken place over the course of such a significant period of time as what has happened in Jackson, then you end up with larger, more substantial threats to your vehicle and to this system. And so, we’ve been crying out to the state for the support. There has been inequity in what we’ve seen in Jackson versus other communities.

This crisis follows another emergency in 2021, when Jackson residents were without running water after a winter storm knocked out power and water supplies.

Some advocates have shared resources to support residents. Grassroots organization Cooperation Jackson is holding a water distribution event Thursday, September 1, 2022.

In addition, Jackson organizer Maisie Brown, an Executive Coordinator of the ACLU of Mississippi, tweeted about local organizing groups responding to the emergency, including a crisis advocacy team she has coordinated with a group of local students.

In his Wednesday interview with Democracy Now, Mayor Lumumba noted that federal infrastructure funds have not yet reached the southern city. As per the mayor’s discussion with Biden officials, money will be allocated to the state, and he has to “make certain that it goes from its inception point all the way to the final destination, which is right to our water treatment facilities, which is towards creating a sustainable and equitable system for our residents.”

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