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Jackson water crisis

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The Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign released a statement this week regarding the Department Of Justice’s decision to file a proposal in federal court that, if approved, would appoint an Interim Third Party Manager to stabilize the city of Jackson, Mississippi’s public drinking water system.

In the statement, activists called the decision, the beginning of a victory for the citizens of Jackson, but vowed to continue fighting to make sure the City of Jackson’s water is safe for its residents. 

“The announcement from Attorney General Merrick Garland in regard to the Proposal for Intervention filed by the U.S. Attorney General’s office is an ongoing complex struggle to do one thing and that is to make the City of Jackson’s water safe which has been unsafe for more than fifty years largely due to the political negligence of the State of Mississippi,” read the press release.

The release also revealed the organization’s plans in the upcoming weeks to ensure the fight for the people of Jackson continues.

“The Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign lawyers, leaders, and national co-chairs, Rev. Dr. William Barber, II, and Rev. Liz Theoharis are reviewing the Proposal for Intervention that has been approved by U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate. We will release a public report on what the order means for the poorest citizens of Jackson, MS. Monday, December 5, 2022.”

According to the release, the national report will be an analysis of the Department of Justice report and the organization plans to continue pursuing, “other legal remedies to address long-term damages which include amongst these efforts, violations of Fair Housing Laws.” 

On Tuesday, the Department Of Justice filed a proposal in federal court that, if approved, would appoint an Interim Third Party Manager to stabilize the city of Jackson, Mississippi’s public drinking water system. The move was made by the DOJ to build confidence in the system’s ability to supply safe drinking water to the system’s customers.

The city and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) have both signed the order and have agreed to all its terms. The Justice Department also filed a complaint against the city alleging that the city has failed to provide drinking water that is reliably compliant with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to the system’s customers. 

According to the DOJ, the proposal is meant to serve as an interim measure while the United States, the city, and MSDH attempt to negotiate a judicially enforceable consent decree to achieve long-term sustainability of the system and the city’s compliance with the SDWA and other relevant laws.

The proposal would give the interim Third Party Manager the authority to operate and maintain the city’s public drinking water system in compliance with SDWA, the Mississippi Safe Drinking Water Act, and related regulations.

“Every American — regardless of where they live, their income, or the color of their skin — deserves access to safe, reliable drinking water,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “For many years now, the people of Jackson have lived in uncertainty — uncertainty about whether, on any given day, the water that flows from their taps will be safe to drink. With our court filings today, we have taken an important step towards finally giving the people of Jackson the relief they so desperately deserve.”


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