Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday that he was “open to all options” to restore the water system in the city of Jackson, including privatization.
“Privatization is on the table,” he told reporters at a press conference. “Having a commission that oversees failed water systems, as they have in many states, is on the table. So, again, I’m open to ideas.”
The governor touted progress made in the days since flooding exacerbated problems at the O.B. Curtis water treatment plant, leading to a drop in water pressure.
The city announced Monday that pressure had been restored to normal, with most experiencing normal pressure.
The more than 150,000 residents had already been under a boil-water notice due to poor quality.
Reeves did not want to put a timeframe on when residents could have access to clean drinking water, but said it was a “major milestone” that officials were doing investigative testing.
“After the bad water has been flushed through the system we should hopefully find that Jacksonians have access to clean water,” he said in prepared remarks before taking questions. “Health officials tell me this morning that the plant is pumping out cleaner water than we’ve seen for a very long time. We will keep you updated on that.”
However, Reeves added that it was “inaccurate” to say the broken system had been “totally solved.”
“We know how to respond, and we can do so effectively. We have the personnel in place today to prevent as many issues as possible, while understanding that a week of repairs does not eliminate every risk. There may be more bad days in the future,” he cautioned.
The problems there, the leader highlighted, are decades old and “on the order of a billion dollars to fix;” they do not include the most recent crisis.
He said workers at the treatment facilities had been abandoned, adding that there had been $150 million in federal and state funds administered to Mississippi’s capital city over the last several years.
Reeves called for Jackson leaders to devise a “real plan” on how to improve the water system there.
“Whatever investment comes next, basic competency to run a water system has to come with it. We cannot continue on the way that we’ve been going,” he said.