Ward 4 Councilman De'Keither Stamps called for a "state of emergency" today over lead pipes in Jackson to help get funds to fix them. He walked out of Council chambers after his motion didn't get a second.
Photo by Imani Khayyam.
The City of Jackson might declare a state of civil emergency tomorrow morning during a special session of the city council.
"The City Council of Jackson, Mississippi, finds that extraordinary measures must be taken to protect public health and safety of the community, especially to address the physical and mental health needs of children, pregnant women and families potentially impacted by lead-contaminated water," the proposed declaration states.
The Jackson Free Press obtained a preliminary version of the declaration that Councilman De'Keither Stamps distributed last week.
Stamps has been pushing the City for weeks to declare a state of emergency in order to get more assistance for people living in homes with lead in their pipes and water.
The purpose of the declaration is to "secure the assistance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies to ensure that all the residents of (the) City of Jackson have access to safe drinking water."
To be precise, the declaration indicates certain assistance programs provided by these governmental agencies and outlines in what ways these could lend financial assistance to the affected families and neighborhoods.
Jackson Schools to Test Water for Lead, Elementary First
If passed, the declaration would ask that the "State and/or regulatory agencies collect drinking water samples, conduct an analysis of the samples, share results with individual homeowners and post results on a publicly accessible website."
Mayor Tony Yarber and other council members have, so far, resisted the call for a state of emergency. Yarber assured Jacksonians last week that the water is safe, even as both the City and State warned that pregnant women, children and infants should not drink the water without taking precautions.
Stamps would like to address the Mississippi Department of Health's suggestion that mothers use ready-to-feed formula, which does not require the use of tap water. The USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (or WIC) might be called upon to allow for the use of vouchers for purchase of ready-to-feed formula or provide for a swap of powdered formula for ready-to-feed.
Councilman De'Keither wants to "ring the bell" about lead in Jackson pipes.
The city would also call upon the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the USDA to assist families "in obtaining screening for their children."
Jackson Public Schools announced last week that it is testing water for lead, starting with elementary schools.
This declaration, if passed, presents a victory for Stamps, who walked out of a council meeting a little over a week ago when his first attempt to make a similar declaration failed to find support on the council. His concern then was to provide assistance for those living in older homes, the kind of residences that are more likely to have the type of pipes that leech lead into the water.
Although the City and the Mississippi Department of Health have both publicly stated that Jackson's water supply is safe to drink, both parties agreed on a six-month-long plan to address deficiencies in the corrosion-control program. Improper treatment of the water to correct pH and alkalinity could contribute to the leeching of the older pipe systems. While the corrosion control is being adjusted, the danger posed by the older pipe systems in Jackson homes remains an issue.
Email city reporter Tim Summers Jr. at [email protected] Read more about lead in Jackson's water at jfp.ms/jxnwater. See more local news at jfp.ms/localnews.