City of Jackson clears up misunderstandings about water system

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi State Department Health recently issued a warning to pregnant women and children in Jackson about lead levels in city water.

One lawmaker suggested a fix come from the one percent sales tax but that can’t happen because of the way the city says that tax was approved.

The city is sticking to its stance that Jackson’s drinking water is fine.

They say the lead problem is dependent on individual homes.

Still that warning has gone out to everyone, and it has caused some concern for a lot of people and raised questions about when an outdated corrosion control system can be repaired.

Kruz Long is a football coach and father of seven.

He says between his family and the team, the lead problem has him spending hundreds of dollars on water regularly.

“It doesn’t make me feel good at all because I feel like I have to be extra cautious. You shouldn’t have to be extra cautious to use water. It’s kind of difficult right now,” Long said.

As WJTV first reported, the city tells us the lead issue mostly impacts homes with pipes installed before 1983.

Long lives in a fairly new Jackson neighborhood, but he says he’s not taking any chances.

“I have to purchase a lot of water by my having seven kids, you have to purchase a lot of water. Starting from brushing your teeth in the morning,” Long said.

“It’s important for the public to know that the city’s water has not been deemed unsafe,” Shelia Byrd, the Director of Communications for the City of Jackson, said.

City leaders say a lot of information concerning the lead issue has been misinterpreted.

“What happens is that once the water leaves our treatment plant into some of the older homes, with lead piping. There is a leaching that occurs,” Byrd said.

That leaching is the result of a chemical reaction because of the alkalinity and PH levels in the city’s water.

City leaders say they are working on upgrades to the water plants and those changes would make it less likely for there to be a chemical reaction to older pipes.

Last week, state representative Earl Banks pointed to the one percent sales tax as a way to pay for it.

“I think we have over $30,000,000 or so in that fund now and things need to be happening,” Banks said.

But Byrd says the way that tax was written, it can only be used for road repairs.

People we talked with hope they come up with something sooner rather than later.

“Please get the water fixed fast. We need that done,” Long said.

The upgrades to both water plants are estimated to $500,000 each.

Funding for the changes will have to go through the city’s contract process, and get approval from the council.

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