Thursday, September 29, 2022

How Jackson's Water System Collapsed: Bullet Points Version

 Last week's post How Jackson's Water System Collapsed generated a great deal of traffic although it is a rather thorough article.  A few readers asked if JJ could post a "bullet points" version so they could better discuss the article with their friends.  Ask and ye shall receive.  Feel free to use them when out in the field engaging the enemy. 

*  The O.B. Curtis water treatment plant is not old and worn out as portrayed in the media.  The plant opened in 1993.  Jackson doubled the plant's capacity in 2007, all of 15 years ago. 

* The Siemens project is the original sin from which much of the water crisis flows.  Mayor Harvey Johnson issued a no-bid contract to Siemens in 2012 to replace all water meters.  A project supposed to save Jackson  $120 million turned into a Predators Ball for the favored few.  The Mayor and City Council stuffed the deal with unqualified minority subcontractors.  The city sold $90 million in bonds to finance the project.  Unfortunately, the meters weren't compatible with the upgraded billing software and blew up the water/sewer billing system.  The screwed-up billing system meant....

* Thousands of residents got crazy bills or no bills at all.  Mayor Lumumba announced at a July 2021 press conference Jackson suffered nearly $40 million in uncollected water bills form 14,588 customers, including stranded bills. 

* The Yarber administration panicked and issued a moratorium on cutoffs for two years.  Mayor Lumumba reinstated the policy.  Tell people they don't have to pay their bills  and guess what? People don't pay their bills. 

* What does it all mean? A water system should be a money-maker for a city.   The Siemens project, billing blowup, and moratoriums crippled Jackson's water/sewer system.  The system went in a few short years from earning profits up to $7 million year to losing $10-$20 million per year. 

 A bankrupt water/sewer system was simply unable to care for itself.  Positions went vacant, parts were not ordered, and much-needed repairs were ignored for years.  

* Much is said about Jackson's tax base fleeing to the suburbs.  However, such flight is almost irrelevant to Jackson's water failure. A municipal water/sewer system operates on its own revenues instead of taxes.  It is not a hard process to understand.  Set the rates to cover the costs of operations, maintenance, and repaying loans.  Bill the customers.  Collect the money.  Cut-off the deadbeats. Rinse, repeat.  It really is that simple.  Even a reporter can understand it.  

* Mayor Lumumba sued Siemens for $225 million in 2019.  The principal and interest were $200 million over the life of the bonds.  However, the city settled for $90 million in 2020.  Only $14 million went into the water/sewer system while $30 million went to attorneys.  The rest of the settlement repaid various loans. 

* The media says white flight decimated Jackson's finances.  Uh-huh.  Check the city audits.  Jackson gets more revenue than ever.  Read that sentence twice.  Total revenue increased from $180 million to 2003 to $264 million in 2020.  

* The Mayor's staff lacks management experience.  The mayor was a criminal defense lawyer in a small firm.  The Chief of Staff was a JSU professor.  The first Chief Administrative Officer was a JSU music professor.  The current CAO worked at Entergy in the marketing department.  The Public Works director who just resigned was an architect.  See a pattern?  

* The city blew off the Health Department for years.  MSDH called EPA.  EPA inspected the plant in February 2020.  Appalled at the poor condition of the water treatment plants as well as the shortage of employees, the EPA placed the city under an emergency administrative order in March 2020. The city repeatedly ignored the mandates and the order.  

* Internal Health Department emails warned in summer of 2020 that Jackson's water treatment plants would collapse at the next adverse event.  That event took place in the form of the February 2021 ice storm.  

* Coverups and Chutzpah The Mayor hid the order from the City Council and the public for over a year until this website broke the story in April 2021.  Mayor Lumumba refused to discuss it in public, telling one  Councilman  the order was over his head.  The mayor also blamed the public for being "ill-informed" about the order.  

* More coverups.  A fire broke out at O.B. Curtis in April 2021, damaging an electrical panel that controlled several pumps, thus knocking them out of service. The pumps were still out of action as the mayor blamed "supply-chain problems."  The real truth is the city did not order the panel until  January after the Health Department ordered it to do so.  The city also kept secret a severe ammonia leak that forced the employees to evacuate in June.  

* The coverups and convoluted excuses continued through 2022.  The EPA reported what little staff there was was worn out while employees quit over low pay.  

* The O.B. Curtis plant did not flood.   Rainwater changed the chemical composition of the reservoir water.  A lack of employees and failing equipment meant the water was not treated.  The plant was already operating on backup pumps.  When a pump failed, the system began to shut down.  The state intervened.  

*  Father Time did not ruin the plant, neglect and incompetence did.  A Lexus is a great car.  Don't change the oil, replace the timing belt, or service the transmission and guess what? The car eventually won't run.  Water treatment plants are no different. 

The reality is a decade of incompetence blew up Jackson's water system.  Mayor Johnson destroyed the billing system with his Siemen's project.  Mayors Yarber and Lumumba cut off the cut offs, depriving the water/sewer system of much needed revenue.    

Haven't read any of this in the media? The media is more interested in manufacturing reality than reporting reality and that my friends, is the bottom line. 


Anonymous said...

Thanks KF. However, you left out the true causes- climate change, white flight and racism. Had it not been for these causes, the water system would work perfectly.

Anonymous said...

"And that my friends, is the bottom line"

Burke said...

Helpful. Thank you.

Under "Coverups and Chutzpah," I think it would help to refer to "the order" as "the EPA order". Admittedly my mind had wandered off at the mention of the cold snap, and I did not immediately recall what "the order" referred to.

NE Jackson Resident said...

Kingfish made great points.

I think the length of time regarding the issue, he perceived, is too short.

But was spot on when he stated, "However, the city settled for $90 million in 2020. Only $14 million went into the water/sewer system while $30 million went to attorneys. The rest of the settlement repaid various loans."

Having numerous friends that have worked for the city and left for greener pastures, that money can not be accounted for.

This leads to the next point, Antar is beatable. The people in the city want a new mayor, but there weren't any good candidates to replace him in the last election.

Anonymous said...

It’s all so tiresome.

Anonymous said...

Excellent and accurate summary. I’ve lived here over 20 years and watched it play out in real time. The national media coverage has been appalling: devoid of truth and racist as hell. Yes, blaming whites for the failures of black “leaders” is racist as hell. Johnson, Lumumba, and Yarber made incredibly dumb decisions and their skin color has nothing to do with it. They also had a propensity to misuse public funds, which makes the state and feds reluctant to throw money at the problem.

I believe Lumumba facilitated the recent crisis deliberately, to force state and federal funding. It’s all about the money and demanding a handout is so much easier than working to develop and implement actual solutions.

Lumumba needs to resign.

Anonymous said...

What will be fun to watch is Marcus Wallace, the DBE who installed the Siemens meters, actually runs for Mayor of Jackson as was reportedly seen a few weeks ago with campaign signs. The mudslinging and throwing under the bus should be epic. They'll have to be careful not to contradict the narravite, though it'll be difficult.

Anonymous said...

Can someone send this to NBC, ABC and CBS to read out loud on the evening news. The national news and not the local that is.

Anonymous said...

When will the Democratic party promote his ass on out of here? You know it’s coming.

Anonymous said...

Fat chance. The (((media))) hasn’t finished squeezing the last drop of white guilt out of the population. (((They))) receive almost no meaningful resistance, so we we may never see an end to this madness.

Anonymous said...

Where does this fit in with the NAACP saying that the state gave loans and dollars to water districts that served majority white communities and the state didn't give loans and dollars to city of Jackson's water department?

Anonymous said...

"Total revenue increased from $180 million to 2003 to $264 million in 2020. "

Is this actually an increase when adjusted for inflation?

Anonymous said...

Thank You Mr. Kingfish.
The above thread will be helpful when we sue Jackson.
Mr. Purewater, EPA

Anonymous said...

@2:21...$180 million in 2003 is approximately $290 million in 2022, however what is missing from your question is where is the Siemen's money and how much money has not be billed/paid for for water/sewage usage in past years, so the $264 million plus the unaccounted for and unbilled/unpaid water usage should exceed the $290 million figure.

Anonymous said...

I applaud the reporting, KF.
Sadly, I have reached my limit for with this BS. Especially knowing nothing will ever happen to Chuckie.
And Jackson will vote the next criminal in a bow tie into office when this guy gets tired of stealing.
Nobody cares about the truth. It cannot be fixed when the voters refuse to vote for actual skillset and intelligence.

Anonymous said...

@2:21 pm It's an increase but not a large one. Depending on which site you look at, inflation from 2003 to 2020 ranges roughly 2.03-2.54%. I used the one that said 2.18%.

Using that inflation rate, $180 million translates to roughly $259.71 million. So it's not much of an increase.

Anonymous said...

And now Harvey and the NAACP have filed a complaint with the EPA claiming years of divestment by the state has led to all of these issues. In any response filed against said complaint, KF's full article needs to be attached as an exhibit.

This is complete gaslighting lunacy by those arguing it is the states' fault. All I can say is John Hohrn is not making friends with those who filed the complaint when he touts how much the state has helped.

It is like we are living in Wonderland and Alice is drunk. Make it stop!!!

MBrookes said...

Seems to me we have a history of hiring incompetents. First it was Seimen's and now the yahoo's who messed up the latest round of meter replacements. Couldn't we ask for references and see what kinds of jobs they have done for other places?

Anonymous said...

@2:16 Many facts in the NAACP complaint are not correct, or they left out several very important facts. I'm specifically referring to their complaint about a majority-white area in south Madison County that the complaint mentioned.

Anonymous said...

4:15, I think you are right. But, I think the only qualification the CoJ cares about is the color of your skin or your connection (wink, wink) to those deciding who gets the gets the contract.

Anonymous said...

Well this is a good summary of the White Washed Mississippi News. Where did the infrastructure funding go?

Notice you didn't say anything about the water pressure or testing standards.

Anonymous said...

@2:16 - you note that the NAACP "says" these things. That does not make them true. Just as the national media is saying that the state blocked $42 million that was designated for Jackson in the last session. Truth there was that one legislator filed a bill wanting to give $42 million to Jackson. Hell, there were 3000 other bills filed by legislators that died, just as this one did. The money was not "designated" for Jackson other than one person wanted to try to do so.

The state has provided millions of dollars in loans to Jackson for water and sewer - just as it has done for numerous other cities/towns/districts across the state. There are two loan funds, both revolving loan programs funded for this purpose - one at the Dept of Health (water) and one at DEQ (sewer). Everything the City of Jackson HAS APPLIED FOR from these funds has been loaned to Jackson - on the same terms that they loan money to these other towns, be they white, black, red and yellow, whatever.

Jackson has failed to apply for many available dollars, just as they refused to do with the $6 millin back in 2011 but now the media is trying to make the claim that the white politicians kept Jackson from getting "their money".

Point being - the NAACP, especally with the fraud running it (fraud is an actual term since he claimed to be an attorney to get a no-bid contract from Hinds County under the 'professional' exemption, but he was not an attorney) or the SPLC. As long as they can put the word 'racist' in their pleadings at least every third line, truth or facts don't matter.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see the one on garbage service in a couple of months.

Anonymous said...

Warning possible Harvard alumnus at 5:17PM. Be prepared for all manner of ridiculous assertions, wild speculations, illogical conclusions, unhinged rants, and raves.

It should also be pointed out the meaningless questions that lead to straw man arguments with baseless accusations of racism.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, slight quibble with your original sin language that Harvey “issued a no-bid contract to Siemens in 2012. . . .”

Harvey solicited a no-bid contract from Siemens which was approved by a supermajority of the City Council in late 2012. Unlike Richard’s, both branches approved Siemens and the financing was blessed by the courts (also, the whole shebang got some passing blessing by the Miss Dev Bank or some state entity, maybe MDA ?). Then in 2013 the City issued a Notice to Proceed (under Lumumba I, perhaps ?). Main point: had the Council including a soon-to-be-elected L1 not been in on the hustle, Election Man would not have been able to pull off the caper and “issue[]” anything.

Amazing work, and your efforts will likely be the only remotely accurate factual record. Future generations need to know. Thank you, sir.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I think I will start a Go Fund Me Page to put a full-page ad in the Wall using the above bullet point.

Anonymous said...

The current Mayor of Jackson beats all, he's done Nothing to Manage a City the size of Jackson. All the metro area seems to be Growing at a fast pace because of the Mayor of Jackson's illusion about being some God that Lead Jackson to the Light. Keep pumping what little Water you have, Not Billing for it, ignoring EPA & DEQ orders and see where You wind up Mayor... sooner rather than later you'll figure out You are Responsible for this Disaster, You made choices that are & were asinine, You could have Managed Personnel, made Choices that really matted in the Lives of Jackson Residents. I hope Ms nor the Feds bail your dumbass out of this quagmire You developed by a Lack of Management, Lack of Leadership, Lack of Forward Thinking..

Anonymous said...

And Jokewe tells Jacksonites not to trust the State that saved their water system from him. What a dipshit!

Anonymous said...

'you left out the true causes- climate change, white flight and racism'

It's laughable that any one would believe this! The Mayor and his cronies need criminal and civil charges. They're just a bunch of crooks. Jackson is a laughing stock because of corruption and incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Short version: It collapsed because the dems are in charge.

Anonymous said...

@September 29, 2022 at 8:45 PM

Please post the link for contributors when available.

Anonymous said...

What's amazing is the mayor is determined not to lose control of a water system, that the state is responsible for failing.

Pappy Odaniel said...

West Rankin Utility Authority’s new WWTP also contributed to the demise of the overall system. Water and Wastewater are bundled as a service and loss of those funds of paying customers was a big hit. Savannah St plant still has to operate with roughly the same costs without the revenue. Water and WW are cheaper the larger the scale. WRUA is on the path to bankruptcy. They did exactly what Jefferson County Alabama did with their system that ended up in the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. WRUA has already issued new bonds to cover the initial issuance to subsidize the original bonds. This works as long as interest rates keep decreasing. That’s what happened to Jeffco. That’s what is going to happen to WRUA and why customers are seeing outrageous bills already and the debt service will continue to increase. Too much plant for too small of a service area. You don’t see many 20 mgd plants being built because it is an awkward size to construct relative to the population to service.

Kingfish said...

Keep it up with the misinformation.

They didn't do "exactly" what Jefferson County did. Period. I covered it back then on this website. JC engaged in Interest Rate Swaps with Chase and Rice Financial Products. Does Rice sound familiar? It should. Rice was Porter Bingham's partner for years on such deals. Stovall got his license suspended for six months for the rolling fork ripoff.

As for WRUA, I can show you newspaper articles where regionalization or allowing WRUA a seat at the table was discussed but JOhnson and successive mayors said not just no but hell no. So WRUA took its ball and went home. It's like a Fedex or UPS mistreating Amazon. Amazon can build its own distribution system if taken for granted. That is what WRUA did. Jackson has no one to blame but itself. Johnson fought every attempt to work with the Spacers. Now we have two systems.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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