EPA and the City of Jackson, Mississippi Reach Agreement to Improve Drinking Water and Protect Public Health
JACKSON, Miss. (July 1, 2021) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the City of Jackson, Miss. (City) entered into a Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) to address long-term challenges and make needed improvements to the drinking water system. The agreement memorializes enforceable steps and specific timeframes for the City to come into compliance with national and state regulations to reliably deliver safe drinking water and ensure the public’s health is protected.
“EPA and the City’s partnership is vital to ensure all Jackson residents have access to clean and safe drinking water,” said John Blevins, EPA Acting Region 4 Administrator. “Today’s agreement reflects EPA’s commitment to working with local communities and to protecting those most vulnerable to pollution. We appreciate the City’s dedication to come into compliance with laws that are critical to protecting public health.”
The AOC builds on steps the City has taken to address concerns identified in EPA’s February 2020 inspection, and the subsequent March 2020 Emergency Order and Notices of Noncompliance dated May 2020 and April 2021. The EPA identified compliance deficiencies, including operational and maintenance concerns. The March 2020 Emergency Order required the City to address system deficiencies of immediate concern. The AOC announced today establishes enforceable timeframes for the City to develop and implement plans to ensure the City comes into compliance with safe drinking water regulations.
The City of Jackson’s system has over 71,000 water connections, serving the largest city in Mississippi with a population of almost 173,514. EPA inspected the system in February 2020 and issued the March 2020 Emergency Order to address some of the more prevalent, persistent and concerning violations that were noted during the inspection. The March 2020 Emergency Order requires the City to: (1) develop and implement a plan to address all monitoring equipment and appurtenant treatment equipment repairs and/or replacements; (2) address dosing processes for disinfection and pH control; (3) develop and implement a plan to provide alternative drinking water when specific triggers are met; and (4) take additional total coliform bacteria samples under prescribed conditions.
In February 2021, Jackson experienced a system-wide failure due to extreme weather conditions that caused pipes to freeze and lose pressure. This resulted in many areas of the system being without water for several weeks. Following the winter storms, EPA provided technical assistance to the City and discussed financial assistance to support impacted communities.
EPA has identified the protection of drinking water as priority as part of the National Compliance Initiative (NCI). EPA’s NCI on Reducing Noncompliance with Drinking Water Standards at Community Water Systems supports EPA’s goal of a 25 percent reduction in the number of community water systems that are out of compliance with health-based standards by the end of fiscal year 2022.
For more information on the NCI: click here.
For more information on Jackson’s drinking water compliance: click here.