In a statement released on Tuesday (August 30), Governor Tate Reeves said the shortage of safe running water in Mississippi's largest city threatens the "critical needs" of its residents, noting that the current situation is particularly dangerous and different from past water challenges.
"This a very different situation from a boil water notice — which is also a serious situation which the residents of Jackson have become tragically numb to," Reeves said in a statement.
"Until it is fixed, it means we do not have reliable running water at scale. It means the city cannot produce enough water to reliably flush toilets, fight fire, and meet other critical needs."
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba initially declared a water system emergency Monday (August 29) evening after following flooding disrupting the city's main water processing facility.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is heading the mission to provide bottled water to residents during the crisis, Reeves said Tuesday.
"Replacing our largest city's infrastructure of running water with human distribution is a massively complicated logistical task," the Mississippi governor said.
"We need to provide it for up to 180,000 people — for an unknown period of time," he added.
Over 80 percent of Jackson's 150,000 residents are Black.
Residents have long struggled to have clean, reliable sources of water due to the city's infrastructure issues, as detailed in a 2020 Environmental Protection Agency report.
"Please stay safe. Do not drink the water," Reeves said Tuesday. "In too many cases, it is raw water from the reservoir being pushed through the pipes. Be smart. Protect yourself and your family."
Former NFL star and Jackson State University coach Deion Sanders said his football program is in "crisis mode" as the season is set to start in days.
“We don’t have water. Water means we don’t have air conditioning. We can’t use toilets. We have no water. Therefore, we don’t have ice,” Sanders said on Instagram. “So right now, we are operating in crisis mode.”