Third-party administrator Ted Henifin speaks at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson on January 27, 2023.
The court order comes after additional concerns of overflows from the wastewater system.
Ted Henifin, who has been the third-party appointed manager over the city of Jackson’s water system since late 2022, has now officially taken on managing the city’s sewer system.
In May of this year, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate indicated he planned to put Henifin over the sewer system. That order became official on Saturday.
JXN Water, the company Henifin started in order to manage the water system, commented on the recent decision saying they will work for the next four years to address the wastewater issues.
“Having raw sewage flow down the streets of Jackson is unacceptable. JXN Water is aggressively at work right now to fix sewer overflows and restore sanitary sewer operations,” said Ted Henifin, interim third-party manager for Jackson’s drinking water and sewer systems. “There are about 215 overflows right now across the city and they’re in neighborhoods where people live close by…. you got businesses, cars driving through, people trying to walk their dogs. They don’t want to walk near this. It causes them to have to take alternate routes. It’s just a mess, and we’re going to get at it right away.”
Prior to the announcement, there was a 30-day public comment period in which 95% of those who came forward showed overwhelming support for the appointment of a third-party manager.
The sewer system has been under scrutiny by the EPA, Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality, and Department of Environmental Quality since 2013. Currently, as mentioned by Henifin, the system is experiencing at least 215 overflows which is down from March 2020 when over 460 overflows were reported.
According to the order, between March 2020 and February 2022 over 110 million gallons of wastewater were leaking and left untreated due to the overflows. The court also recognizes that $125 million has been authorized for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design and construct improvements to the sewer system and water system in the city.
JXN Water recently sent mailers out to residents informing that they could face water shut offs moving forward if they do not pay their bills.
Henifin determined that JXN Water would only bill residents’ balances back to December 2022 and forward. This is largely due to issues in collecting balances on meters that had been unreliable in the past. However, the city, separate from JXN Water, will still have authority to collect prior to that date.
JXN Water reported that as of now no customers have experienced water shut offs.