Residents of Jackson, Mississippi, have filed a class action lawsuit against the city, its current and former mayors, city officials and engineering companies, alleging that years of neglect culminated in a recent water crisis for more than 150,000 people. Last week, the city finally had clean water restored following a boil water advisory from July when tests showed water quality was “cloudy.”
The residents asked the court in the lawsuit to force the city to repair the water system and to cancel any bills or debts held by residents for unsafe water or water that was not delivered, and also asked for community health centers to care for people who may have been injured by contaminated water and for an unspecified amount of money for damages.
Flooding of the Pearl River exacerbated the water crisis by causing water pressure issues in the city’s already-damaged system. The plaintiffs also allege that they were poisoned by lead and other contaminants released in Jackson’s drinking water before the water supply failed in August. The lawsuit reads: “These residents lack more than just drinking water, or water for making powdered baby formula, cooking, showering, or laundry. During the long period where the city pipes had no water pressure — and were unable to facilitate the flow of water — residents of Jackson could not flush their toilets for days at a time. This public health crisis, decades in the making, was wholly foreseeable by Defendants’ actions and has left Jackson residents in an untenable position — without access to clean, safe water in 2022 in a major United States city.”
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