Partnerships help ease water crisis

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Pictured are (left to right) Cassio Batteast, Economic Mobility Director, and Nikki McCelleis, President and CEO for United Way of the Capital Area along with Halima Olufemi and Rukia Lumumba with the People’s Advocacy Institute.

Last year, it was Jackson’s failed water treatment plant that sparked JPMorgan to reach out to United Way of the Capital Area to supply truckloads of bottled water to Jackson residents. In August, with the reoccurrence of low water pressure and the threat of flooding, the two entities formed a Water Crisis Relief Partnership to provide water to the most vulnerable for a second time. 

It didn’t take long to get the ball rolling, and the water pouring in. On Sept. 1, Jackson residents began receiving cases of bottled water being distributed at eight sites throughout the city.  A total of 88 pallets of bottled water will be gone by the end of the week. The partnership entailed a commitment of $20,000 from JPMorgan Chase and a match of $20,000 from the United Way of the Capital Area to facilitate the relief effort. Eleven 86 Water Company, a Black-owned company from Autaugaville, AL, coordinated the delivery of the pallets of bottled water to Jackson.

“Thank you, Jesus for the water!” exclaimed Brenda Fields who received her case of bottled water while at the Tougaloo Community Center last week. “I’m so thankful I didn’t have to go out and find water; they brought it to us.” 

“Our staff concentrated on identifying the most needy and at-risk citizens in Jackson who are not immediately visible. For example, those confined due to physical disabilities that can’t easily access water resources,” commented Jean Frazier, Director of Communications and Corporate Relations for United Way of the Capital Area.

Echoing that same sentiment was Chase spokesperson, Jenifer DeSalvo. “Everyone deserves access to clean water. We are proud to stand with United Way of the Capital Area to deliver this critical resource to our neighbors in Jackson.” 

“We are so grateful to JPMorgan Chase for this timely gift,” said Nikki McCelleis, President, CEO, United Way of the Capital Area. The gravity of it will carry an exponential reach and support to our families and communities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all our neighbors impacted by the flooding and to all of us who are suffering during this crisis. We are establishing this fund to assist in the basic need that we all require and have in common – the need for water.  You can be assured that one hundred percent of these funds will be used for this very purpose.”

At press time, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has reported the conditions at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant system that supplies Jackson’s water has sufficient water pressure and that water is flowing throughout the system. However, he warns that additional issues at the plant are predictable in the future and the Mississippi Department of Health will have to complete two consecutive days of clear water sampling before the boil water alert can be lifted.

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Partnerships help ease water crisis

By Brinda Fuller Willis
September 12, 2022