The City of Jackson has completed repairs on the Siwell Road Well in south Jackson, the first of two wells in the Jackson Maddox Well System to receive a full replacement after mid-May failures left thousands in the Jackson metropolitan area with low water pressure, potentially unsafe for consumption.
The TV Road Well is still operating with a temporary pump. In a statement, City of Jackson Communications Director Michelle Atoa explained that a permanent pump for TV Road would be delivered and installed later this week, hopefully bringing an end to the newest manifestation of chronic water problems facing the City of Jackson.
Jackson Maddox Well System provides water to roughly 16,000 connections through six wells. The loss of operations at the two wells in May has caused outages, low water pressure, and undrinkable water for around 2,000 of those connections, located in south Jackson and Byram.
As with most water system outages, the dual well failures have put pressure on higher elevated areas first, without sufficient water output to keep the highest homes pressurized.
“When you have two well systems that are down at the same time, obviously you’re not able to put as much pressure into the system as you’d like,” Public Works Director Dr. Charles Williams explained at a press event last week.
A series of setbacks have extended the well failures. Last week’s inclement weather delayed the final pump installation. At the same press event, Williams acknowledged that the City of Jackson had to seek replacement pumps for the two wells out of state.
In spite of the newly installed pump at Siwell Road, the boil-water notice for affected connections remains in effect as the Mississippi State Department of Health tests the water in the affected areas: multiple days of clean samples are required before the boil water notice is lifted. Currently, MSDH is testing samples derived from well connections. Atoa told the Mississippi Free Press today that results from the testing are expected in the coming days.
Precautionary boil water notices are not a guarantee of unsafe water, but are required when pressure drops below a certain level. Under-pressurized pipes can draw in groundwater from surrounding pockets near pipe joints and breaks, potentially introducing untreated water into the low-pressure system.
“When we get TV Road back online, we’ll breathe a little easier,” Williams explained to WAPT News, adding that with both wells replaced, “hopefully we’ll end this particular water crisis.”
This particular crisis comes only a few months after a different segment of Jackson’s water utilities faced catastrophe, when many surface water connections tied into the city’s distribution system and water treatment plants spent nearly a month without water pressure. The Jackson water crisis revealed systemic failures to adequately repair and improve the city’s aging water infrastructure, spurred by decades of population loss and disinvestment.
The ongoing well-pump failures represent the second time in a year—the first in September 2020—that the Jackson Maddox Well System has experienced significant outages. In last week’s press event, Williams suggested that improper repair during that first outage contributed to the problems continuing into 2021, but promised that additional care had been taken to ensure that this set of repairs would last.