The U.S. Department of Justice is threatening to take legal action against Jackson, Mississippi, officials if they do not act to repair the crippled water system.
In a letter sent to Mayor Chokwe Lumumba by the DOJ, Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim called out the years-long issues that have built up to the water emergency currently gripping the city. Kim addressed the regular line breaks and the over 300 boil water notices issued in the past two years. He maintained that “an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health exists,” according to the letter obtained by NBC affiliate WLBT.
In a news statement, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Regan, said the dire situation in Jackson reached a “breaking point” this summer, with thousands of residents left without clean running water.
“These conditions are unacceptable in the United States of America,” Regan stated.
The move by the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division comes less than two weeks after Governor Tate Reeves and local officials declared that the water was safe to consume. However, since this announcement, several boil water notices have been issued. Numerous videos have surfaced online showing discolored water coming from faucets. Several organizations have sent bottles of water to Jackson in recent weeks.
Community leaders have slammed government officials for failing to repair the water infrastructure years ago. Many feel that systemic racism is to blame.
It is unclear what type of penalties Jackson could face if the water issue is not addressed immediately, and officials have until Wednesday to respond. Lumumba maintains that his office will comply.