Residents of Jackson, Mississippi waited in line to obtain water for drinking, bathing, cooking and flushing toilets on Aug. 31 after its water system failed due to the Pearl River's flooding. A news release from the city said the main water-treatment plant had "challenges with water chemistry," leading to a dip in water output and a significant drop in water pressure. Prior to the water service disruption, the 150,000 residents of Jackson had been boiling their drinking water as officials warned it could lead to digestive issues.
A day before, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said repairing the city's water system could run to "quite possibly billions of dollars." He pointed to short staffing and "decades of deferred maintenance" as the culprits for the water system's deterioration.
Jackson's predicament is similar to other cities, as it faces water system trouble it can't afford to repair. Its tax base has crumbled the last few decades as the population declined. The city's populace is now more than 80 percent Black, with about 25 percent of its people living in poverty.
The state and federal government came to the rescue of Jackson, the Magnolia State's capital. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced a state of emergency for Jackson's water system on Aug. 30, while President Joe Biden authorized an emergency declaration for the state on the same day.
The following day, Biden called Lumumba to talk about response efforts involving the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The president also expressed intent to give Jackson’s aging water infrastructure much-needed federal support.
Meanwhile, Reeves said the state will try to aid Jackson by hiring contractors to work at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant. The facility, which was the root of Jackson's water miseries, had been operating at reduced capacity with backup pumps after the principal pumps failed. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency later posted footage of an emergency rental pump being installed in the water treatment facility on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) circulated a level 1 energy emergency alert quickly after tapping all its accessible power supplies.
Californians, despite prior warnings to decrease usage, decided to charge their electric vehicles. This subsequently drove demand beyond capacity. (Related: Blackout risk in California: EV owners told to avoid charging their vehicles or the power grid might collapse.)
"It is pretty clear Mother Nature has outrun us. The reality is we’re living in an age of extremes – extreme heat, extreme drought," California Gov. Gavin Newsom stated during a news conference. He also released an executive order on Aug. 31 to free up emergency power supplies.
Officials urged residents to reduce power use between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. as temperatures rose beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The heat presents the largest test to the grid since the summer of 2020, when rotating outages overwhelmed parts of the state.
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Watch the video below to know why Jackson, Mississippi blames the "White Flight" for water crisis.