EPA staff found City of Jackson, Mississippi, water department had insufficient staffing, leading to gaps in routine and preventative maintenance, report says

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(CNN)During a March 2022 tract visit, US Environmental Protection Agency unit recovered that the City of Jackson, Mississippi, did not person capable staffing for its h2o strategy and that arsenic a effect of that, regular and preventative attraction connected parts of the strategy were not being performed.

The findings of the March 2022 EPA tract sojourn were compiled successful a July 2022 study prepared by Process Applications, Inc. The study was provided to CNN by the Mississippi Department of Health and the Mississippi Free Press was the archetypal to study its existence.

"There are insufficient operators to consistently unit 3 shifts, 7 days per week," the study recovered astatine the clip of the tract visit. It besides noted that due to the fact that determination were not capable works oregon organisation strategy staff, the h2o section was incapable to behaviour preventative maintenance.

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Although attraction works operators received a wage summation successful November 2021, the organisation strategy crews, successful summation to attraction and instrumentality technicians, did not. The study identified that determination was "a nonaccomplishment of unit successful these roles" that coincided with the deficiency of wage increases.

"In portion owed to deficiency of staff," the study besides noted that the metropolis does not cod oregon grounds strategy unit data, routinely flush its organisation system, papers the locations and operational statuses of its valves, oregon execute regular attraction connected its valves and hydrants.

Adequate staffing, the study found, could not lone optimize the system's operation, but it could besides assistance trim its wide operational costs.

CNN reached retired to the City of Jackson for remark connected the study but did not instantly person a response. At a Tuesday quality conference, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba responded to an EPA official's comments astir h2o section staffing, saying that helium was not "abreast of each the assemblage recruitment efforts" and that 10 individuals were grooming to beryllium people h2o operators -- it tin instrumentality up to six years to finish.

However, the politician did not accidental whether the metropolis had hired immoderate caller unit for the h2o section -- the proposal successful the study -- and alternatively said that the metropolis had been transparent astir staffing shortages and deferred maintenance.

Infrastructure problems aside, the City of Jackson besides has large issues generating gross from its h2o strategy and since 2016, the study notes that gross has really been decreasing.

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Roughly 50 percent of the h2o successful the strategy is "non gross water," meaning h2o that is not billed, oregon nary outgo is received.

Plant administrators told the EPA investigators during their March sojourn that, "malfunctioning h2o meters person contributed to a 32 percent alteration successful gross since 2016."

While the metropolis is replacing h2o meters -- the process is expected to instrumentality 18 months -- the study says that "there is uncertainty astir whether the caller meters volition beryllium susceptible of communicating with the billing system."

But adjacent the billing strategy is not functioning, the study says, and issues with it are not expected to beryllium resolved, "until precocious 2024."

The metropolis told EPA unit successful March that astir 14,000 bills were "stranded," meaning they were not sent to, oregon received by h2o customers.

Due to problems with the billing system, the City of Jackson was not lone incapable to supply a implicit database of customers to the EPA team, but they besides weren't capable to cipher its existent postulation rate.

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