“What we have proven over the last 52 days is the water struggles in Jackson were specific to the incompetence of this administration and this Mayor,” Reeves said.

Earlier this week, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves released a statement in response to city officials reporting that the Mayor of Jackson planned to functionally end the city’s cooperation with the Unified Command Structure—the team that has been keeping Jackson water stable.

“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 Reeves in the release this week.

Governor Reeves went on to say that the state has poured millions of dollars from taxpayers of every county into this effort to rescue the city from a crisis of incompetence. 

“If the politicians of the city of Jackson are determined to reject every helping hand and regulatory enforcement action, they will find themselves in an even worse situation,” Reeves continued. 

The Mississippi Governor said Mayor Lumumba has proven time and time again that the benefit of the doubt cannot be given on contracts and water issues. 

“I hope that he will reconsider this dangerous maneuver. The people of Jackson cannot afford another critical water failure due to a contract dispute akin to his garbage debacle,” Reeves said. “Although politics is clearly his priority, we are simply trying to ensure that Jackson water does not fail again. Ultimately, it may fall to the city council to rein in this radical gambit.”

In response to the Governor’s statement, Mayor Lumumba said that the City of Jackson continues to work with UCS.

“We simply do not agree with the governor’s attempt to exclude Jackson from being a part of the selection of an O&M contract paid for by Jackson residents,” Lumumba said.

While answering questions from the media on Thursday, Governor Reeves said that over the last couple of days, the Mayor has irrevocably broken the Unified Command system that was put in place on August 29th to deal with the absolute and total incompetence of the Mayor and the city administration.

“They have proven that they have no ability to manage the water system up until August 29th,” Reeves said. “In fact, there was a city-wide boil water notice for thirty days prior to that and it led to the point that we were in a position in which it was clear that the likelihood was that there would be no running water in the City of Jackson.” 

The Mississippi Governor said that Mayor Lumumba has gone on national television and local press conferences to the pass blame on a lot of things. 

“But what we (the state) have proven over the last 52 days is the water struggles in Jackson were specific to the incompetence of this administration and this Mayor,” Reeves said.

Governor Reeves said that whenever the state came in to intervene in the municipal water crisis, they set up a Unified Command Structure and named both the Mississippi Department of Health (MDH) and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) as leads on that.

“Literally, within 72 hours we had ensured and restored water pressure throughout the system to the entire city of Jackson,” Reeves said. “Less than 72 hours. Less than fifteen days later, we were able to lift the Boil Water Notice. Again, running water systems isn’t that challenging; it’s not that difficult. In fact, there’s over 1,100 water systems in Mississippi.” 

Reeves said that over the years he has made many decisions to not take over municipal water systems in the state of Mississippi. He said that only once has he ever had to make the decision to sign an Emergency Proclamation to ensure water was delivered to the city and its residents – Jackson.

“This city was once a great city and it has the potential to be a great city again,” Reeves continued. “What the mayor has done over the last three days has irrevocably broken that unified command structure.” 

The Mississippi Governor noted that back in late August and early September when the city did not have adequate resources to buy chemicals because of its broken budget system, the state of Mississippi stepped up and bought chemicals to ensure there was water being delivered. 

“When it was time to hire workers and make sure that people were there, the Mayor was nowhere to be found,” Reeves said. “But the State stepped up and made sure that there were adequate people at the facility.” 

Reeves said as late as Monday, there were 19 individuals from the state along resources that the state brought in at the Jackson water plant, and there was one additional person from the city. 

“What we are looking at today is the Mayor has said through his actions, because actions speak a lot louder than words, that the city is prepared to run the water system,” Reeves said. “What the EPA has said is that they are evidently okay with that.” 

Governor Reeves said that the reality is that the State of Emergency is about to end. The initial emergency was in effect for thirty days and was extended thirty days later until the end of October. 

“What we’re looking at is in the request for proposals, the city says that they can have a water operator into that plant by November the 17th and so I would anticipate that the state and the State of Emergency will end sometime between now and November 17th, but no time later than November 17th.” 

Governor Reeves believes that they will continue to work to ensure that occurs. 

Reeves said that yesterday the EMAC teams concluded their work at the water treatment plant. 

“I can tell you with absolute certainty that the water treatment plant today looks very, very different than it looked on August the 29th because we’ve had confident, capable people not only  running it but actually doing maintenance on it,” Reeves said. “And every single time there was a need, every single time there was a need to buy chemicals or to buy equipment, the state of Mississippi was there to step up and do it.”

“But now that there is a contract to be handed out, now that there is an opportunity to put the thumb on the scale as to who gets it, the Mayor has now decided that maybe that he needs to decide,” Reeves continued. “Now I don’t know what he has in mind, he hadn’t worried too much about the safety about Jackson residents, he hadn’t worried too much about what costs and it doesn’t, but now that there is an opportunity to put the thumb on the scale as to who wins this contract, he decided that the city and only the city should be involved and engaged.”