JACKSON, Miss. – Imagine Salina, all of it, without water – not a drop – for three days. Or Hutchinson.
On Thursday, March 9, officials in this Mississippi capital city concluded three weeks of warning: At 3 p.m. the following day, municipal water would be shut off for most of the city’s northwest quadrant: more than 40,000 citizens in a city of 175,000 would be without water (or with little to no water pressure) for at least two full days.
The shutdown was necessary to repair a 12-inch water main that had burst a month earlier and was gushing a flood; successive attempts at repair without shutting down the system had been unsuccessful.
Thus on Friday the valves would turn shut. It was hoped that water could be restored by 3 p.m. the following Sunday. Portable toilets were parked outside the
Mississippi Capitol, citizens stocked stocking up on bottled water, including 15,000 cases distributed by the city. Restaurant owners wondered whether they could stay open with little or no water from their taps. The city distributed bottled water and told people to fill bathtubs so they can flush toilets and wash dishes. Fire departments from the suburbs were on standby to respond if needed. Public libraries closed and some hotels turned away guests. Portable toilets were also set up at other government buildings, including the governor’s mansion.
As it happened, the water crisis lasted less than a day. As scheduled, water was shut off at 3 p.m.
Friday, March 10. At 3 p.m. Saturday the repairs were complete, water service returned half an hour later. After congratulating crews for excellent planning, officials resurrected a decade-old campaign for $26 million in federal funding for the city’s water infrastructure – a project that was never appropriated. But Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran is now chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and the city hopes soon to have that $26 million.
‒ JOHN MARSHALL