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Jackson, Mississippi officials notified residents to boil their water on Jan. 11 after traces of E.coli were found in the city’s water supply system, according to the Associated Press.  

Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli, is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in the intestines of humans and animals. While most strains of E. coli are harmless and play a role in the digestive process, some strains can cause illness. Pathogenic strains of E. coli can lead to various infections, such as gastrointestinal infections causing symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. Some strains produce toxins that can lead to more severe conditions.

Officials from the Jackson State Department said that the presence of E. coli in the water could be due to human or animal waste. Citizens in Jackson and Flowood have been recommended to boil their water for one minute before usage. This precautionary measure is expected to remain in effect for a minimum of two days while authorities gather fresh samples for testing purposes.

However, during a recent press conference, Ted Henifin, Jackson’s interim water manager, claimed that the notice may not be lifted until Jan. 15. The city official suggested that members of the state department conducted false positive tests on Jackson and Flowood’s water systems as they “refused to validate the lab tests” before mandating the boil water notice. He also expressed doubt about the possibility of simultaneous contamination in samples from Jackson and Flowood because the water systems of the two cities are not interconnected.

“This is tragic,” Henifin added. “This is setting us back maybe a year. It’s taken everything we can do to get a few more people in this city to drink tap water and have trust in it.”

Jackson’s water system failed in 2022

In August 2022, Jackson announced that the city’s water system was failing. Thousands were left without adequate water supply as a result. Jackson has a population of over 149,000 and nearly 85.5 percent of residents are Black. As previously reported, O.B. Curtis is the largest water treatment plant in the city. During a press conference, Gov. Tate Reeves cautioned that the plant would be temporarily shut down until officials could figure out the cause of the malfunction.

According to Reeves, the main water pumps at O.B. Curtis were “damaged severely” when the city issued its first boil water notice on Jul. 29, 2022. At the time, the governor did not reveal the source of the damage. Officials said the city was relying on small backup pumps until the system completely went offline.

Residents of Jackson are reportedly being hit with expensive water bills as city officials attempt work to fix the city’s troubled water system. In an interview with WLBT3 in December, one resident claimed they had seen their water bill jump from “$16 to $342.”

A TikTok user named @AlCole494 based in Jackson posted a video to the platform Dec. 7 that captured brown water flowing from his bathtub faucet.

“This is what’s going on here now and they want you to pay a bill of $6 to $700? Nobody should have to pay a bill when their water looks like this. This is so messed up!”

Henifin unveiled a revised rate structure in December aiming to enhance revenue and promote water conservation. Under the plan, the majority of residential customers in Jackson could expect a modest increase in their water and sewer charges. Customers with commercial meters will experience more substantial price adjustments. Residents currently receiving SNAP benefits are eligible for reduced rates.


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