Monday, February 13, 2023

Jackson Water Update: Coals for Christmas

Jackson Water Manager Ted Henifin said in his quarterly report that the main cause of the Christmas water crisis was failure at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant.  It was yet another shutdown in an ever-lengthening list of shutdowns at the plant.  

The EPA filed an enforcement action against the city of Jackson for its failure to properly maintain its water system over the last several years in U.S. District Court in November. The agency submitted a proposed consent decree. U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate appointed Mr. Henifin as Jackson's Water Receiver* as the Court took over the water system after it collapsed in August.  The Receiver must submit a quarterly progress report to the Court.  

Christmas brought a stocking full of coals for Jackson as a large part of the city went without water  for several days yet again.  The Receiver stated in his report the O.B. Curtist water treatment plant was the  main culprit for Jackson's water woes:  

On the evening of December 23rd and into the early morning hours of December 24th, a rapid drop in temperature (in excess of 40 degrees in 6 hours) caused a change in the thermocline that exists in the Ross Barnett Reservoir. As temperatures dropped, the density of the surface water became greater than the density of the deep water and the water turned over (the deep water rose to the surface and the surface water sank to the deep). The water quality of the two layers of water differs in many characteristics, some of which are critical to the water treatment process. Unfortunately, night operations were unable to take the appropriate corrective action fast enough to prevent turbity to rise in the water in the plant and had to slow production to allow the treatment process to recover. This slow down in water production created lower pressures in the system. The result was a loss of nearly all water stored in the system.

The plant's treatment process was "fully restored" on Christmas Eve but the water system lost a substantial amount of pressure as residents left faucets open due to freezing weather and a lack of water stored at the plant. 

Mr. Henifin stated three factors caused the water crisis.  The report states: 

The first was lack of additional staff to assist over the holidays. Jacobs was providing staff augmentation through a Secondment[] Agreement but could not actually operate the plant due to liability issues. Through the month of December, Jacob’s staff members advised JXN Water operators (City employees under the authority and direction of the ITPM since the Effective Date of the Stipulated Order) based on their extensive operating experience. This arrangement had largely stabilized treatment and the plants in December up to the Christmas holidays. As all of the Jacobs’ team was from well beyond the Jackson area, the ITPM allowed them to go home for the holidays. As such, none were present to advise and assist during this climate- induced water quality change.

The plant lacked redundancies.  There were problems with the sensors at the water intake at the reservoir, a familiar story.   The Receiver said there was a "failure to adequately communicate" to the public how to use allow a trickle of water  to prevent frozen pipes.  

Unfortunately, the Jackson water system is not out of the woods yet.  The report warns the system is still vulnerable and "at risk of similar failures" for the next few months.   

Mr.  Henifin included a project list in the report (pps. 3-4).  The Receiver said he spent more than $60,000 of his own funds to "get this process moving quickly."    


 * Sources said the Lumumba administration pushed hard in negotiations to get the feds to avoid using the term "receiver" for Mr. Henifin's position although that is exactly what he is.  


Anonymous said...

If they knew it was the plant all along, why where they telling the media that it was likely a massive unidentified leak. As I recall they were asking for state assistance in locating the "leak". Thermal Imaging, etc...

Anonymous said...

Don’t they know by now that one large group of flushes will take out the Jackson water system and also cause stinky water to bubble up all over town?


Anonymous said...

It's like when the murderer vows to never stop searching for the real killer!

Anonymous said...

@9:23, not the first time Comrade Ted has struggled with veracity.

Anonymous said...

turbids float. everyone knows that.

Anonymous said...

A staffing problem-imagine that.

Anonymous said...

I'm so impressed all of those commenting can instantly analyze all the contributing factors when systems break down.
Most humans go with most common ( likely) and then work their way through the list based on probabilities.
And, no doubt, y'all have avoided a repair person ever having to "fix something else" before restoring " working order".
What perfect little lives you all live.

Anonymous said...

Lots of services retained. Friends of Chowke?

@9:52 AM - It was the one-armed man.

Anonymous said...

Second verse, same as the first.

Anonymous said...

With all the water experts on Facebook and Nextdoor its amazing the City of Jackson continues to suffer from staffing issues.

Krusatyr said...

Please don't say "Receivership", it implies Lil Choke is an inept failure. This is an unfair disparagement of he who, while devoted to destroying streets, bridges, downstream water quality, libraries, police department, schools, airport, safety of citizens, nevertheless had energy and determination to also destroy water treatment and its distribution.

Anonymous said...

Sources said the Lumumba administration pushed hard in negotiations to get the feds to avoid using the term "receiver" for Mr. Henifin's position although that is exactly what he is.

Where's the proof?

Anonymous said...

To 10:36 am - you are the pot calling the kettle black. Take your bullshit screed up with the current imbecilic leadership of Jackson who seem to have only one idiotic explanation for system failure (or any other self-imposed failure): racism. It's all they seem to know.

Anonymous said...

Thermocline layer changes in water temperature. Isn't that how the Red October got away from the Dallas? Or maybe it was the the other way around. I'll check with Commander Mancusco and ST1 Jonsey.

Anonymous said...

11:05, are you angry that others are disappointed in the slow repair process?

I genuinely don't get why anyone would defend this disaster or the time it took to figure it out.

Don't you want the poor and impoverished people of Jackson to have the same quick repairs that the suburbs experience? It seems counterproductive to insult the folks on Facebook and Nextdoor who are pointing out the problems.
Do you think the residents of Jackson deserve to be treated poorly?

Anonymous said...

@11:05 many on facebook and nextdoor aren't claiming to have knowledge of water or water treatment. However, they might have knowledge in managing people, running a business, or accomplishing a simple task. If so, they have every right to question the clusterf**k that is the Jackson water/sewer system.

Anonymous said...

"caused a change in the thermocline that exists in the Ross Barnett Reservoir".
said Mr. Henifin ... (receiver of the water plant).

Well, this thermocline effect may be the cause of bass boat disappearances
in the Pelahatchie Bay Triangle.

Anonymous said...

Lack of adequate staff - yes, due to the city not enforcing cutoffs for non-payment of bills, therefore not enough money to fill positions as people left

Lack of redundancy - yes, due to th city not enforcing cutoffs for non-payment of bills, therefore not purchasing replacement or repairing parts when the redundant ones were put into service

Lack of the intake controls working "properly" (actually, not working at all) - yes, due to the city not enforcing cutoffs for non-payment of bills, therefore not repairing this critical part of the infrastructure over five years ago

Lack of truthfulness about the problem - well, that's redundant. Has been the case for the past six years; the cause of PW Director Miller's resignation. True, but not just the case with the utility system

Anonymous said...

As I suspected - a staffing issue.

When is Ted going to hire Jackson citizens?

Anonymous said...

4:21 for the win.

Collect money for the service offered or watch it fail.

That this simple truth is lost on so many defenders of Chuck tells me all I need to know.

Free water, free repairs and maintenance, and free money to dole out to pals is the only real objective here.

Anonymous said...

@9:35 is correct. You have to bill and collect. And you have to make sure your rates cover the financial needs. But the mayor's free water program means that the State and US taxpayers get to bail him out of his incompetence.

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