A business group and one of Mississippi’s largest labor unions issued separate statements calling for renewed action to address Jackson’s “water crisis.”
In a joint letter and press conference on Monday, 46 business owners in the capital said back-to-back citywide boil water advisories and citywide water cuts had had “consequences dramatic negatives” for restaurants.
“This letter is our first formal attempt to bring attention to this crisis and to engage with our city, county and state leaders in an effort to exert pressure for action,” the statement said. letter.
The letter outlined additional costs to restaurants when the city’s water supply is interrupted. Demand for ice has increased as vendors are required to source it from vendors with access to an approved water supply. As a result, some restaurants are using vendors as far away as Meridian, a town about 148 miles east of Jackson, the letter said.
To prepare food and for employees to wash their hands, dishes and utensils, restaurants must boil or purchase water. They also have to buy canned soft drinks instead of using drinking fountains. Coffee service is stopping, restaurant owners said.
“All of this comes at a huge cost to restaurateurs. Some owners have reported spending up to $500 a day on these items,” they wrote.
In separate comments, officials from the Mississippi Association of Educators, a union representing school employees, said the water system creates additional challenges for Jackson public schools.
“When the water system fails, JPS schools are also forced to switch to online learning,” Antonio Catanon Luna, executive director of MFA, said in a post Monday. “It destabilizes the learning environment for students and creates economic stress for families.”
A survey conducted by the association showed that 96% of attendees said they thought Jackson’s water was unsafe to drink, WJTV-TV reported.
Erica Jones, chair of the DEA, said water issues are leading to longer breaks for students, longer wait times for cafeteria food and less time in class.
At a press conference Monday, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the OB Curtis water treatment plant, which serves the Jackson area, is “in a perpetual state of emergency.” He also said his office is working to resolve the issue through routine meetings with the state health department and federal Environmental Protection Agency officials.
The Mississippi State Department of Health has issued a boil water advisory for all surface water connections in the city, citing high levels of turbidity or cloudiness in the water. The advisory, which was still in place on Monday, affects 43,000 connections, WLBT-TV said.