U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday pledged aid to Jackson, Mississippi, as the majority-Black state capital endured its third day without drinking water after a long-troubled water treatment plant failed.
The promise from Washington came as frustrated people in Jackson waited in long lines amid sweltering heat at distribution sites where volunteers handed out cases of bottled water.
Complications from recent floodwaters knocked the O.B. Curtis water treatment plant offline on Monday night, with little reliable estimate of when service will be restored. Water pressure remained low or nonexistent, with some pipes carrying water that had not been fully treated.
The Biden administration approved an emergency declaration late Tuesday to free up federal assistance, and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told a news conference he had spoken separately with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The American Rescue Plan, approved at the start of Biden’s presidency last year, provides $450 million for water upgrades across Mississippi, with the city of Jackson allotted $20 million for water infrastructure, Jean-Pierre said. In addition, EPA loans were available and a Pearl River flood control study was under way, she said.