The water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi seems like a never-ending nightmare. Now, Black businesses in the city are fighting to save their dreams.
According to AP, Jackson officials have said that most of the residents in the city should have running water, but this comes with a caveat. The tap water in Jackson is still undrinkable and the city remains under a boil water notice. Officials also warned that future repairs could lead to additional fluctuations in water pressure.
Black business owners in the city say the latest water crisis didn’t start their problems, they just compounded ongoing issues that have caused them to lose clients.
Bobbie Fairley, the owner of Magic Hands Hair Design, said she had to cancel five appointments last Wednesday because the water pressure wasn’t high enough to wash her clients’ hair and that she is constantly losing money. She also told AP that she has had to buy water and fit appointments in whenever she can, a business practice that is just not sustainable.
“That’s a big burden. I can’t afford that. I can’t afford that at all,” she said.
Jackson, Mississippi isn’t new to water problems.
Jackson has struggled with safe water access since the 1940s, but nothing has been done.
In the 1970s and again in 2020, the EPA warned that the city had to get serious about updating its infrastructure to improve water quality, but they didn’t.
Jackson’s Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the city’s water plant had failed numerous times since 2020. According to the official, in early 2020, the city’s water system failed an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspection. In the report, the agency wrote that the drinking water “had the potential to have the presence of” harmful bacteria and parasites, “based on evidence” of turbidity and cloudiness in the water. They also expressed concerns about the “condition of the distribution system.”
In 2021, a vicious winter storm blew through the Gulf Coast, leaving the city of Jackson without drinkable water for more than two weeks.
Some Black business owners in Jackson blame the systematic water failures on Mississippi’s mostly white, conservative-dominated Legislature.
Maati Jone Primm, owner Marshall’s Music, and Bookstore called the systematic failures attacks on the community.
“For decades this has been a malignant attack, not benign,” he told AP. “And it’s been purposeful.”
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