As Mississippi considers privatizing Jackson’s water, parts of the city system already run by private companies have been left in ruins.

by Naomi LaChance, The Lever

The federal government is investigating why the state of Mississippi has failed to adequately fund the Jackson water system, after the city’s water crisis left 180,000 residents without clean water for much of August and September.

The news comes as Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) has been moving to privatize the city’s water system, meaning a private company would take over the system, allegedly to improve the city’s water quality.

A sign outside Jackson's water treatment facility

In truth, Jackson has already worked with two private companies on parts of its water system, although these companies do not own the infrastructure. The results have been disastrous — and in some cases, helped lead to the most recent crisis. While these partnerships differ from privatization because the city still owns the utilities, they are a harbinger of what privatization could entail.

Jackson declared a water emergency in August, when rain caused the Pearl River to flood, resulting in water that could not be properly treated. Videos from Jackson circulating on social media showed water the color of coffee flowing from faucets. Residents were told to keep their mouths closed while showering, while some people had no water at all and were unable to flush toilets.

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