City’s Push to Fix Jackson’s Water Problems - - Jackson, MS

City pushes to fix Jackson's Water problems

We've seen water problems in the city of Jackson for years. City officials are pushing for a one percent sales tax in addition to high water rates to fix the issues.

However, some say they can't afford another water rate increase.

James Barr has been living in Byram for 20 years and he's now among 400 people in Byram, who live a mile from the Jackson line, paying high water rates. His bill is 29 percent higher than his original rate, a total of $60.

"We thought it was excessive but after doing a lot of research I found out that if you lived within a mile of the city of Jackson that it's almost like you're getting charged for sewer," Barr said. "It was running 90 dollars that was on average and it went up to $144 and so you know they don't send you any explanation or anything they just send you the bill."

His water rate increase is one tool the city of Jackson is using to generate money to reconstruct their water pipes. The other is one percent sales tax, voters will decide in January.

"We have about 112 miles of old cast iron pipe in the downtown area, it's concentrated there primarily," said Mauricka McKenzie, a water resource engineer with Neel Schaffer. "There's a lot of old pipe, old cast iron pipe and when this pipe was put in place it didn't have a liner in it and the water over a period of 100 years have attacked the pipe and caused a lot of rustling and the pipe is aged and has gotten brittle"

Engineers say the reason why it's probably taken the city so long to fix is because of the cost.

"There's a lot of things that are in the ground that we don't see that we also have to consider when we placing the water pipe and this can cause the cost to increase when you're dealing with coordinating with different utility companies just to get down to the water," said McKenzie.

Jackson's Mayor, Chokwe Lumumba and the city's public works staff are hosting town hall style meeting to explain the problems and to encourage people to vote for it.  

City officials plan to host more of these meetings in the future.

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