JACKSON, Mississippi — A treatment plant at the center of water issues in Mississippi’s capital made “significant” gains overnight and through Saturday, Jackson officials said.
According to a news release, total output from the OB Curtis water plant increased to 86 pounds per square inch, approaching the city’s goal of 87 PSI or better.
“The outlook is very stable,” the city said in the statement. “However, additional challenges as repairs and adjustments are made leave potential for ongoing fluctuations.”
The city said most customers should have water pressure, and only a few remaining pockets in south Jackson may still experience low or no pressure.
“Work continues today at the plant on the membrane and conventional systems. This work is initially focused on increasing production capacity at the OB Curtis facility,” the statement said. “Increased production capacity will create more stability in the water supply.”
Teams from Georgia and Florida Rural Water Associations are also on site, helping to repair and restore many automated systems that will allow for better management of water production and water quality, said the city.
Once the pressure is restored, there are concerns about the strain on the aging and brittle pipes, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told a press conference. Even when the water is flowing again, you don’t know when it will be drinkable.
The rains, followed by the flooding of the Pearl River, exacerbated long-standing problems at the sewage treatment plant, causing pressure to drop across Jackson, where residents were already under an order month old water boil due to poor water quality.
The problems led to a declaration of emergency from Republican Governor Tate Reeves on Monday and a declaration of disaster from President Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, the Mississippi State Health Department says residents may see flares at the plant as crews work to transfer ammonia from a leaking tank that needs repair. .
“There may be controlled combustion of the gas which may cause a visible eruption in the sky,” Jim Craig, a state health official, said in a news release. “There is no need to worry and there is no threat to the public.”
Anhydrous ammonia is a colorless, non-flammable liquefied gas. A propane flare is installed on site to burn off any gas that may escape from the product transfer and repair the leaking ammonia tank.
Nearly 2.8 million bottles of water have been distributed through Friday afternoon, the state emergency agency reported. Non-potable water, for flushing toilets and other uses, was also offered to people who brought their own containers to some sites.
The entire city had been without water or low pressure at one time. Figures on the number of homes and businesses whose service has been restored were not available.