Citizens in Jackson, the majority-Black capital city of Mississippi in the US, now have water coming out of their taps once again, but are still having to boil it before drinking, as they have had to intermittently for years.
It is a step forward from the situation last week, when floods overwhelmed the city’s dilapidated main water treatment plant and essentially interrupted water supply across the entire city, affecting more than 160,000 residents.
The supply runs painfully low, leaving people without water to drink, flush toilets and cook. When people's taps are not running dry, they are ejecting murky brown water.
A video, shot by journalist Molly Minta, of filthy brown water running out of the taps at her home, is going viral on Twitter. It has over 11 million views and more than 50,000 re-tweets.
"I live in Belhaven, and some of my neighbors have been speculating the water is safer here because we’re close to a water plant but pretty far from the reservoir. Well…" Minta tweeted
Jackson’s main water-treatment plant was unable to handle severe rain caused by flooding along the Pearl River last month, accelerating damage to the fragile system.
An inundation of raw water contaminated a reservoir supply, slowing treatment, depleting supplies and causing an unsafe pressure drop.
Some pumps were already out of commission before the rain, causing the plant to rely on backups.
The antiquated system had already been beaten down by a series of cold snaps that froze pipes last winter, leaving many of the city’s 150,000 residents without water.
The Environmental Protection Agency told Jackson months ago that its water had run afoul of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.