JACKSON, Miss. – Two weeks into a water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, after a series of winter storms, city officials say they do not know how many residents are still without water or when water will be restored.
Public Works Director Charles Williams said Tuesday that there are still pockets of homes in south Jackson's high-elevation areas without water, but he could not share a total number of outages.
He said water pressure at the city's treatment plant was gradually being restored, but a firm date for restoration of the system remains elusive.
For more than two weeks, residents in the city of 160,000 have been warned to boil any water that does come out of kitchen taps before using it.
Williams had said he was hopeful the system would be up to speed by Feb. 26, the weekend after the city first reported a water shortage on Feb. 17.
Instead, he said the prolonged freezing temperatures from winter storm systems crippled a system unequipped to deal with the temperature drop.
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More than 100 water breaks reported
The system is still not putting out enough water pressure to service its more than 43,000 customers. That has been complicated by water main breaks across the city that have leaked water into city streets and yards. Since the city first reported a water shortage, more than 100 water breaks have been reported. As of Monday night, crews had completed 53 repairs, he said.
Williams said Tuesday that it's possible a large water main break that has not been reported is also siphoning water from the city's water supply.
"A hard number is difficult to track," Williams said. "We would have to go door-to-door to know precisely where all the outages are."
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Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has also been been hesitant to give a firm date for recovery of the water system.
The city has been tracking outages through reports from residents and its 311 hotline. The mayor's spokeswoman, Michelle Atoa said that as of Tuesday afternoon the hotline had received more than 1,500 water outage calls since Feb. 15, but she was unable to provide a hard number of residence outages or an estimate.
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The mayor's office said in an email that it had crews out Tuesday in south Jackson neighborhoods and in higher elevated areas of the city where residents are still experiencing outages. The crews are testing pressure levels and releasing trapped air from hydrants that may be impeding flow.
Seven distribution sites for non-potable water remain open across the city, and the city is also delivering bottled water to elderly and homebound residents.
Contributing: Jeff Martin and Leah Willingham, The Associated Press
Follow reporter Justin Vicory on Twitter: @justinvicory
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This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Jackson, Mississippi, water crisis: City unsure how many affected