Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., leaves his seat after the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol met on December 19. He praised a decision to give Jackson, Miss., federal funds to deal with its water infrastructure. File Photo by Tom Brenner/UPI | License Photo
June 6 (UPI) -- Jackson, Miss. received a federal lifeline in its water crisis on Tuesday with the Environmental Protection Agency promising $115 million to support critical water infrastructure in Mississippi's capital city.
The funds, which are coming from the 2023 federal budget in money Congress set aside for infrastructure, come to a city plagued by water infrastructure issues that have left it without reliable clean drinking water at times.
In October, the EPA opened an investigation into whether Mississippi state officials discriminated against Black residents in the state by declining to fund improvements to the state's water supply.
"These funds will help provide relief to Jackson residents, who have suffered decades of water insecurity," Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said in a statement. "This aid helps to restore dignity to our city."
In addition to this appropriation, the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in additional financial support to support water infrastructure upgrades.
"Last summer, the city's water system reached a crisis point when a major flood aggravated longstanding problems in the system and left tens of thousands of people without any running water for days on end," President Joe Biden said in a statement on Tuesday.
"All Americans deserve access to clean, safe drinking water. That's why I directed my administration to make sure the people of Jackson have the resources they need and deserve."
Last August, Mississippi and Biden declared a state of emergency due to the drinking water crisis in Jackson, which affected its population of 180,000. Biden ordered FEMA to organize relief efforts to help distribute water.
"This is an incredible milestone towards ensuring access to safe drinking water for the Jackson, Mississippi community," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. "It is a testament to the work Congress has done to provide this funding to Jackson through the bipartisan 2023 federal budget and is a first step in resolving the water crisis for the citizens of Jackson."