Mississippi Investigated for Civil Rights Violations in Jackson Water Crisis

The NAACP has accused a pair of Mississippi departments of discrimination against Black Mississippians, leading to the loss of drinking water in the state's capital city at the end of the summer.

2 minute read

October 25, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A sign announcing the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Facility in Jackson, Mississippi

The city of Jackson was without safe drinking water for weeks this summer when pumps failed after flooding at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Facility. | Chad Robertson Media / Shutterstock

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating the state of Mississippi for civil rights violations after the state's majority-Black capital city of Jackson lost safe drinking water in August 2022.

According to an article by Ashton Pittman for the Mississippi Free Press, the EPA's investigation follows a complaint filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “For years, the State of Mississippi, its agencies, instrumentalities, and officials (collectively ‘the State’) have discriminated on the basis of race against the City of Jackson, Mississippi (‘Jackson’) and its majority-Black population by diverting federal funds awarded to ensure safe drinking water and unpolluted surface waters and groundwater,” reads the text of the complaint. The complaint specifically accuses the Mississippi State Department of Health (MDH) and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality of discrimination against Black Mississippians in finding choices for water supply infrastructure.

According to the article, the August pump failure at the O.B. Curtis water treatment plant, following flooding along the Pearl River, was only the latest failure for the city's drinking water infrastructure. “In early 2021, residents of the 82% Black city also lost access to running water for weeks after a deep winter freeze,” writes Pittman.

Planetizen picked up news in September that the city of Jackson was requesting $200 million in funding from the EPA, bypassing the state entirely, to help fund an estimated $1 billion needed to repair the city's water supply infrastructure.

Thursday, October 20, 2022 in Mississippi Free Press

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