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Mississippi Old Capitol building (Jackson leadership)
In-Depth

Under the Surface, Part 3: A Water Crisis Amid A Legacy In Decline

The reaction to integration, which included white Jackson families immediately pulling 5,000 of their children out of local schools, was but one piece of the water-infrastructure puzzle. Another came in 1972, an unintended consequence of necessary environmental reform. That year, the Water Pollution Control Act steamrolled through a veto from President Richard Nixon. Few took notice.

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Overhead view of OB Curtis Water Plant
In-Depth

Under The Surface, Part 2: After Jackson Freeze, the Fog of War

It was Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, when it all went wrong at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant. Dr. Charles Williams, public works director for the City of Jackson, could see the writing on the wall. “We started losing system pressure. Everything bottomed out. We had to figure out why,” he says now. A war, of sorts, lay ahead.

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Tamiko Smith sitting with dialysis bag
In-Depth

Under the Surface, Part 1: Jackson Residents Struggle from Neglected Water System

What does it mean to be without water? It is innumerable small humiliations: the splash of a toilet flushed with a bucket, days on end without a shower, no clean clothes. It is weeks without a cooked meal, a sink full of unclean dishes, brushing one’s teeth with water from a bottle, if a bottle can be found. For Tamiko and Otis Smith and many others, it is something far more dangerous. 

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