October 17, 2022

Governor: Jackson Mayor’s refusal to assist in selecting water operator is “a huge mistake”

Therese Apel

Gov. Tate Reeves

According to Governor Tate Reeves, Jackson Mayor Antar Lumumba is ending the city’s cooperation with the Unified Command Structure that has been helping the city to bring solutions to the water crisis.

The Governor says the mayor is refusing to be a part of selecting a water operator alongside federal and state water experts, which the Biden Administration had requested. Reeves called that a huge mistake on the city’s part.

Reeves said the EPA pressed the state to take the lead in the logistical process of procuring a new water operator. The Mississippi State Department of Health had asked the city to review the technicalities of the request.

“Throughout this emergency, we have had to procure chemicals, workers, and materials for the city routinely because they were incapable of doing so. This is a continuation of that process in an unbiased way—led by technical experts,” Reeves wrote on his Facebook.

Reeves made the following post on Facebook Monday morning:

After this statement was made, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba responded with the following:

“The City of Jackson has made no mention of ending the City’s cooperation with the Unified Command Structure. In fact, we continue to work closely with the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Mississippi State Department of Health.

What the city will not do, is agree to a Request for Qualifications, without the entire Unified Command Structure, which includes the City, having had an opportunity to first contribute, revise or approve the language. The funds that will be used to hire any firm working at the water treatment facilities will come from the City and its citizens.
Therefore, the City, with support from those who truly are invested in the repair and maintenance of the water treatment facilities, will have the final say. The third-party management company will be working for the City. It is only reasonable to expect the City to play a role in hiring that company.
Instead of issuing erroneous new releases, we invite the Governor to have an actual conversation with City leaders and our federal partners about the City’s water treatment plants. We have been ‘going it alone’ after years of asking for state support.
We appreciate state leadership finally stepping to the table and supporting the residents of Jackson. We look forward to productive conversations that lead to an actual agreement…. instead of a headline.”


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