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MEMA: Only $191,000 in equipment costs...

MEMA: Only $191,000 in equipment costs needed to get Jackson’s main water plant back online

By: Anne Summerhays - September 19, 2022

This is an aerial view of of the City of Jackson's O.B. Curtis Water Plant, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Increased labor/contracting costs to effect repairs and deferred maintenance during that period totaled $1,158,297.26.

Y’all Politics has learned that as of September 15th, the Incident Command Center at the Mississippi Management Agency (MEMA) had only had to spend a total amount of $191,530.82 on the equipment and repair costs to fix the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Facility in Jackson since the state of Mississippi declared a state of emergency and assumed control of the operations on August 30.

That figure is a surprisingly low amount needed to fix the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment facility that is the main water treatment facility for Jackson’s 150,000 residents given that it was on the brink of total collapse before state intervention.

MEMA said that increased onsite and outside labor and contracting costs to effect repairs and deferred maintenance during that period totaled $1,158,297.26.

This was during a period where thousands of residents suffered from a lack of water and Jackson businesses collectively were losing millions of dollars per day due to water being undrinkable and/or completely unavailable at the tap.

The proposed Water and Sewer budget for 2021 in Jackson was $61,400,430 or just a little over $5,000,000 per month.

That means the total amount spent by the incident command from the state was to bring the system back from the brink of total collapse about 30% of one month’s proposed budget for the City of Jackson.  Additional ongoing labor/contracting costs are expected to keep the facility operational.

During the state of emergency, the state and the city of Jackson agreed to split the costs on the state resources on a 50/50 basis.

Given the relatively small amount of money to bring the system back online and functioning, city officials have openly estimated a $2 billion price tag to remedy Jackson’s water/sewer crisis in the long term (at a cost of $13,333 estimated per resident).  That is likely at least a billion of costs in addition to normally recurring operating revenues that would ordinarily be taken in for the city’s water operations over a 20 year period.

The $1.35 million spent so far comes out to only $9/resident to get drinkable water flowing again.

Last week at a press briefing, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced that the boil water advisory in Jackson, Mississippi had been lifted and clean water had been restored to the city.


“Since the state of Mississippi stepped in to fix Jackson’s water system, we’ve significantly increased the quantity of water produced, restored water pressure to the city, installed an emergency rental pump, fixed and reinstalled broken parts on-site, and monitored and tested water quality,” Governor Reeves said. “We can now announce that we have restored clean water to the city of Jackson.”

Governor Reeves announced that Jackson’s water system will continue to be monitored and that additional testing will be administered to ensure continued water quality.

In conjunction with the Governor’s announcement, MEMA Executive Director Steven McCraney reported that they have started looking at contracts for a Project Coordinator to run the O.B. Curtis plant and ensure it stays at maximum efficiency.

MEMA and the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) are working together to operate the O.B. Curtis plant under the current emergency order that is set to expire in November 2022.

All MEMA water distribution sites are now closed due to the state-imposed boil water notice being lifted. 

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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: