This is an aerial view of of the City of Jackson's O.B. Curtis Water Plant, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says the unified command is proactively seeking long-term solutions to sustain the state’s work at these facilities.

The Unified Command of the Jackson Water Crisis is looking to fill operations and maintenance contracts at the City of Jackson’s water treatment facilities. This request for qualifications (RFQ) has come at the behest of federal partners.

“MEMA is acting as the coordinating agency for the procurement of this contract. Staffing has been a critical issue at these facilities, and we are ready to move to the next phase of stabilizing Jackson’s water services. Our top priority is life safety,” says Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Executive Director Stephen McCraney.

The Unified Command is seeking a 12-month emergency procurement contract for staffing for operations, maintenance, and management of the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Facility, J.H. Fewell Water Treatment Facility, tanks, and well facilities of Jackson.

The current contracts end on October 20, 2022, which were enacted under the emergency measures taken by the state. That declaration ends on November 29, 2022.

Governor Tate Reeves said in a release that there are continued trust issues between state and federal leaders and the city leaders of Jackson, particularly Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. Reeves asserted that Lumumba has proven time and time again that the “benefit of the doubt cannot be given” when it comes to contracts and water issues. He urged the mayor to reconsider what he called a dangerous maneuver in the progress toward making long term solutions for the water crisis.

“We have been told by city officials that the Mayor of Jackson is planning to functionally end the city’s cooperation with the Unified Command Structure—the team that has been keeping Jackson water stable—by refusing to participate in the process of selecting a water operator alongside federal and state water experts as the Biden Administration repeatedly asked to be done. That would be a huge mistake by the city. They would be communicating through this action that they no longer desire state assistance and insist on going it alone.” said Governor Tate Reeves in the release.