Thursday, July 19, 2018
JACKSON The City of Jackson violated technical policies in treating water at the O.B Curtis Water Treatment Plant. It affects all water customers, except those on the well system.
"In an effort to maintain trust and transparency with those we serve, we must inform you that it has come to our attention that for six months, our water system has failed to consistently meet the minimum pH required by our optimized control plan for the City of Jackson," Director of Communications Candice Cole said at a press conference on Thursday, July 19.
The water is still safe to drink, as the violation did not allow lead or copper into the water, Director of Public Works Bob Miller said.
Through the Optimized Corrosion Control Program that the Mississippi Department of Health issued, water leaving the treatment plant must maintain a pH level of 9.0, and water throughout the city must maintain a pH of 8.6, Miller said.
"The purpose of this plan and the minimum pH requirements is to help prevent lead and copper numm ph requirenments is to help prevent bove umstnace in the process usedthis situttion."that may be in residential plumbing components from dissolving into the drinking water," he said.
The violations occurred from January to June. The water is tested daily, and the results are sent to the State. As a result of the violation, the State mandated that the City send letters to all water service customers informing them of the failure. Those were mailed on Friday, Miller said.
Under former Mayor Tony Yarber, the City switched from treating the water with lime. The new chemical, soda ash, is stored in the same tanks where the lime was before the switch. However, it needs certain storage dimensions, and the lime tanks do not work well with it, Miller said. In humid conditions, soda ash forms into a rock-like substance. This means the plant halts the treatment to break up the substance. Workers clean the tanks holding the soda ash as well.
At the time Yarber's administration made the decision, it seemed OK, but hindsight is 20/20, Miller said.
"This isn't a matter of blame," he said. "This is a matter of differentiating the amount of information we have at this time, considering what they had at that time."
In order to fix the water treatment violations, the City is switching to lime treatment as it waits new equipment to hold the soda ash. Officials estimate the cost to be about $500,000, Miller said.
Throughout the press conference, administrators emphasized that the water is safe to drink, but asked that residents to continue to use precautions. Those include using filtered or bottled water for pregnant women, children 5 years old and younger, and for making formula. Residents should run the water for one to two minutes in the morning before using it for the first time; clean faucet aerators; and make sure children have adequate lead testing done. Jacksonians should also not drink hot water from the tap.
"I would never, as a father ... as the mayor of the City of Jackson, assure the people that our water is safe to drink if I had indications that it was not so," Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said.
Read more about Jackson’s water issues at jfp.ms/water.