Biden administration announces $115M to upgrade Jackson, Miss., water infrastructure

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The White House announced Tuesday that the Biden administration will award $115 million to Jackson, Miss., to upgrade the decaying water infrastructure that has led to multiple water crises in recent years.

In the statement, President Biden credited bipartisan legislation he signed in December for the funds, singling out the work of Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who represents most of the Jackson area.

Jackson, once a majority-white city, saw much of its wealthier white tax base leave the city in the mid-20th century following court rulings ending segregation. In recent years, Jackson has seen multiple water crises, including in last August when a rainstorm knocked out a treatment plant and left nearly 200,000 people without potable water. The city was under a state-imposed boil-water notice through Jan. 9 of this year.

This was Jackson’s second water crisis in as many years, after a winter 2021 weather event froze the city’s pipes.

In November, a federal court appointed Ted Henifin to manage the city’s water system. Earlier this week, Henifin announced the city only collects about 56 percent of water fees it issues, which comes to about $50 million of lost revenue, according to The Associated Press.

In his statement, Biden also pointed to funds in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that would replace all lead pipes throughout the nation.

“While we have made a lot of progress, there is much more work to do to ensure that all Americans have access to clean water. Thanks to my Investing in America agenda, we’re already deploying record resources to communities all across America to replace lead pipes, improve water quality, and rebuild the Nation’s drinking water infrastructure, ensuring it can withstand the impacts of the climate crisis,” he said.

“Until all our children can safely drink water from the tap, our fight for clean water must, and will, continue,” he added.

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