The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the state of Mississippi over the Jackson water crisis.
The investigation came after Jackson residents (which has roughly 150,000 citizens, with 83% of them being African American) and the NAACP filed formal complaints with the EPA over a water crisis that left the city without safe drinking water for more than seven years months.
In a statement released by the EPA, the organization said it would investigate whether the Mississippi department of health and department of environmental quality “discriminated against the majority Black population of the City of Jackson on the basis of race in the funding of water infrastructure and treatment programs and activities.”
Following the announcement, the NAACP said, “Today’s decision by the EPA is a significant first step in holding the state accountable for its role in exacerbating the Jackson water crisis. For far too long, residents of Jackson, like Black communities across this country, have had water access weaponized against them.”
An aggravating crisis:
For years, the city of Jackson has faced issues with its water system. Residents have blamed the problems on “systemic neglect” and say that state officials have ignored their needs. In September, the Justice Department threatened to file a lawsuit, accusing the state of Mississippi of failing to follow the federal “safe drinking water act.”