The Jackson water crisis is being used as an excuse to privatize the water system. That’s a bad idea

RockedBuzz
By RockedBuzz 3 Min Read

News,
The Jackson water crisis is being used as an excuse to privatize the water system. That’s a bad idea
: detailed suggestions and opinions about
The Jackson water crisis is being used as an excuse to privatize the water system. That’s a bad idea
.

When Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced in mid-September that the state was lifting its weeks-long boil order for Jackson, it sounded like a declaration of victory: “We have restored clean water to the city of Jackson.” The ensuing headlines sent the same message of relief after weeks of the intense crisis that left tens of thousands of residents of the state capital with no access to water.

But Governor Reeves’ words gave false assurances about the situation on the ground – and could signal a worrying desire to push a private takeover out of the national spotlight.

In contrast to the governor, residents of Jackson – who have been heroically leading recovery and justice in their communities – were telling a different story: The dangers of lead contamination were still a health hazard, and in many homes the water was clearly not safe to drink. The infrastructure remained fragile.

Year after year, intensifying storms have caused main breaks and water outages. This year it was the near-historic flooding that knocked out the city’s main treatment facility; last year, it was a devastating winter storm that left residents without water for weeks. What Jackson needs – like many cities and towns across the country – is money to fix the problems. Writ large, the government has spent decades divesting from infrastructure funding; since 1977, federal funding for municipal water systems plummeted an astonishing 77 percent.

This is especially tragic in areas like Jackson, where decades of racist policies and population and wealth loss – much of it due to white flight following school integration in the 1970s – have hollowed out what little aid could be available. In 2020, Governor Reeves vetoed a bill designed to help the city improve its bond rating to finance new projects after a private meter replacement debacle. That legislation finally became law without his signature last year, yet legislators killed another proposal to help the city raise its own funding for water repairs.

Story continues

Share This Article
Leave a comment