WLBT-TV Jackson

Wicker, Hyde-Smith back bill that could provide Jackson with millions to restore water system
By Anthony Warren 

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker were among the 89 members of the U.S. Senate who voted in favor of a bill that would reauthorize a series of federal water and wastewater infrastructure programs that could benefit the capital city.

On April 29, the Senate approved S.914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021.

The bill was approved on an 89-2 vote and was passed a day before Jackson experienced yet another crisis at its O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant.
Early Friday, an electrical fire broke out at the Ridgeland facility shutting down two high-service pumps. 
The fire took place in one control panel, but as a precaution, officials shut down the entire system and issued a boil water notice because of the loss in pressure.

Pressure across the system dropped as a result, and some 43,000 customers were again put under a precautionary boil water notice.

The fire represents the second time operations at the plant have been hampered this year. In February, the plant was crippled when two winter storms ripped across the area, causing equipment at the plant to freeze up. It took weeks for the city to restore water to all residents and businesses following that storm.

S.914 would allocate some $30 billion in funding for clean water and drinking water revolving loan funds and an additional $6 billion for grant programs, according to NBC News.

The bill also would also ease restrictions for cities borrowing money and would allow for more of the debt to be forgiven, according to WaterWorld magazine.

Over the years, Jackson has issued millions in state revolving loan funds to cover water and sewer needs. 

The loans are made available through the Mississippi State Health Department and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and come with lower interest rates than commercial bonds.

The measure now must go to the House of Representatives for consideration.