Long-unpaid bills lead to some water service cutoffs in Mississippi’s capital city

By Emily Wagster Pettus, The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Water service is being shut off at some apartment complexes in Mississippi’s capital city because of long-unpaid bills, the company that runs the Jackson water system said Wednesday.

JXN Water said in a statement that it has made “major strides in improving the consistency and reliability” of water flowing to customers in the city of about 144,000 residents.

“To maintain our progress in improving the system, everyone must pay their fair share,” said the company, which is headed by Ted Henifin, an administrator who was appointed by a federal judge in 2022 to oversee the water system.

About 25% of Jackson residents live in poverty, and the city struggled for years with water quality problems and understaffing at its water treatment plants. The water system nearly collapsed in August and September 2022, leaving tens of thousands of people without water for drinking, bathing, cooking or flushing.

Henifin has said inconsistent billing and unpaid bills have exacerbated the system’s financial problems.

JXN Water said that before shutting off service, it contacted apartment management companies multiple times and gave notice of disconnection. The cutoffs were announced as temperatures in central Mississippi topped 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius).

“We understand the impact on residents who may not be directly responsible for the non-payment,” the JXN Water statement said. “We encourage residents in affected properties to engage with their property management company immediately to understand the steps being taken to restore service.”

WAPT-TV reported that water was shut off for part of Tuesday at Gardenside Apartments, where residents’ rent payments are supposed to include water service. JXN Water told the station that Gardenside Apartments managers had last paid water bills in 2017, and the complex’s overdue amount was more than $148,000.

The Associated Press called the complex management Wednesday, but the call went to a voicemail box that was full and could not take additional messages.

Audwin Reese, a military veteran who lives in Gardenside Apartments, told WAPT that he was checking on neighbors who were without running water, including a 93-year-old woman. ___ This story was first published on July 10, 2024. It was updated on July 11, 2024, to correct the spelling of the last name of the administrator who oversees the water system. The correct spelling is Henifin, not Henefin.

Emily Wagster Pettus, The Associated Press

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