‘A public crisis’ — Nearby city, state fairgrounds seek independence from beleaguered Jackson water system

Published 12:36 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

A mayor in Mississippi says he wants his city to develop its own water system.

Byram, a city just south of Jackson, gets its water from the state capital’s water system. Byram Mayor Richard White tells WAPT-TV he envisions a system with three wells and a million-gallon water tower.

White says that so far this year a large portion of Byram has lost water three times, forcing businesses to shut down and lose money.

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“On a Sunday afternoon between two blowouts … Steak Escape was closed, McDonald’s was closed, Vowell’s shopping center was closed. At one point, Walmart even shut down because of it — on a Sunday afternoon. Because there was no water,” White said.

He said he hopes to be able to fund a water project with grants. The mayor estimates the cost of the project at $12 million to $13 million.

Meanwhile, Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson says he’s looking to make the State Fairgrounds independent of the Jackson water system.
Gipson decided the fairgrounds needed its own well when a February freeze affected Jackson’s water system, causing the fairgrounds to lose water during the Dixie National Rodeo.

“Nobody could even go to the bathroom or flush the commodes, and that is a public crisis,” Gipson said. “I’m here to tell you, we lived through that. And I said that day, ‘We cannot let this happen again.'”

Drilling at the fairgrounds started in July. Gipson said the $1.1 million project funded by his department should be completed in the next couple of months.

Byram resident Larry Rimpson said he’s often frustrated with Jackson’s water problems.

“Whenever there’s an issue in Jackson, we’re adversely affected,” Rimpson said.

He said he and his family have awakened several times to find they had no running water.

“And a lot of times, we can’t do anything about it. We’re solely at the mercy of the city of Jackson,” Rimpson said.