For Immediate Release:
January 6, 2023
Mayor Lumumba, partners secure nearly $800 million in aid for Jackson’s troubled water system
“Today, we can finally say after decades of kicking the can of crumbling infrastructure down the road, the stars have aligned for Jackson.”
(Jackson, Miss.) – Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba made a major announcement Thursday that the federal government has committed to sending $600 million – over half a billion dollars – toward repairing the City of Jackson’s antiquated water system.
The historic funding comes out of the $1.7 trillion federal omnibus bill that was passed in the final days of 2022 and after national recognition of the City’s ongoing issues with its main water plant and outdated distribution lines led to extended boil water notices and the loss of water pressure for many residents.
It comes as the direct result of the Mayor’s persistent efforts to secure funding and meet with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the Mississippi congressional delegation, community and church leaders, and residents of the City of Jackson. The funding represents the largest federal allocation for the City of Jackson in its history.
“I mentioned a few weeks ago that something big was happening, but I couldn’t go into detail at the time. Well, today, the time has come,” Lumumba said at a Thursday morning press conference at City Hall. “Today, we can finally say after decades of kicking the can of crumbling infrastructure down the road, the stars have aligned for Jackson.”
“At this moment in time, we have secured the expertise and the funding needed to start repairing, replacing and modernizing Jackson’s water system,” Lumumba continued.
All told, the Lumumba administration has acquired nearly $800 million ($795,259,040) in grants and direct appropriations in the course of three months to shore up the City’s estimated $2 billion infrastructure needs. The collective funding represents the efforts of the administration, local and federal partners to bring a long overdue, historic investment into the City’s water and sewer infrastructure.
The struggle with its water system has plagued the City of Jackson for years, evidenced by newspaper headlines and stories of water woes that goes back decades. These stories paint a picture of a crumbling water and distribution system that is frequently in crisis and susceptible to extreme weather events. Over the years, with climate change and the rising costs of repair, replacement, and modernization of the water system, the growing needs have outpaced the revenue and workforce available to the City of Jackson.
The plan moving forward is to abide by the Department of Justice’s stipulated order, which can be found here. The funding will be managed by the EPA, which maintains a close working relationship with the Mayor and City of Jackson officials. The plan to make short-term, mid-term and long-term corrections to the City’s water system is being overseen by third party administrator, Ted Henifin, who will effort to address the 13 infrastructure priorities listed in the order.
The Mayor has asked Mr. Henifin to provide a timeline and implementation plan that will let the public see the steps being taken, the expected start and finish of projects, and the impact each project will have on residents. The ultimate goal is to use the resources to deliver residents the dignity of having clean, available and safe drinking water.
Lumumba said he is hopeful the resources and expertise on hand will become a model for other cities in the country that suffer from the same experiences and stand as a “human-centered model,” one that displays the power of collaboration and investment when building a more resilient and sustainable future for all.
He acknowledged those who have supported funding for the City of Jackson and its water system, singling out Congressman Bennie Thompson and Senator Roger Wicker as being particularly helpful as part of a coalition of the willing. The Mayor also recognized the City of Jackson’s federal lobbyists at Ice Miller (Jarod Loadholt), the NAACP for their efforts, the Thomas Consulting Group for their expertise in all things finance, grants, infrastructure, communications and strategy, and the many other private and philanthropic partners who supported this effort.
“It has taken an incredible collaborative effort to reach this monumental place,” Lumumba said. “This transformative funding not only ensures water infrastructure improvements but increases the overall quality of life for all Jacksonians and neighboring ratepayers.”
The Mayor ended his comments with a vow to Jackson residents to continue to fight for additional funding to address the City’s estimated $2 billion total capital needs.
“In the midst of our water challenges, I am very happy to say that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for the residents of Jackson. We did not get here overnight, and our full recovery will take many years, but we are well on our way, and we look forward to even better days to come.”