JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Officials in Jackson, Mississippi, said the city’s water system, which partially collapsed in late August, was experiencing “fluctuating” pressure on Saturday afternoon amid frigid temperatures.
“Both of our water plants are functioning, so crews are now working to determine what is causing the fluctuation,” Melissa Payne, a city spokesperson, said in a news release. “As crews are working to stabilize things, frigid temperatures are hampering their efforts.”
Some residents in Mississippi’s capital city may temporarily experience low water pressure, officials warned. Leading up to the “arctic blast” that brought dangerously cold air to Jackson, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba warned that the city’s the water distribution system remained a “huge vulnerability.”
“We are in no position to promise that sustained arctic temperatures won’t impact the water system and other infrastructure,” Lumumba said at a Monday news conference. “We are going to prepare for the worst, but pray for the best.”
The potential for further disruptions to Jackson’s water system comes just months after the city of about 150,000 residents lost water in late August.
The water system fell into crisis after flooding exacerbated longstanding problems in one of two water treatment plants. Most of Jackson lost running water for several days, and people had to wait in lines for water to drink, cook, bathe and flush toilets.
In February 2021, tens of thousands of Jackson residents were left without running water for days after pipes froze. Temperatures in Jackson over the holiday weekend mirror those the city experienced during the 2021 cold snap.
In an announcement posted to social media, the National Weather Service’s Jackson branch wrote that Friday’s high temperature of 24 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 4 degrees Celsius) in the city ties the second-coldest high temperature for the date set back in 1963. “That’s how anomalous this air mass is,” the announcement reads.
The high for Saturday is projected to be 1-3 degrees above freezing, according to the National Weather Service.
The freezing conditions arrived as a winter storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses and disrupted travel plans across the United States on Saturday.
Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mikergoldberg.
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