Tuesday, September 10, 2024
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Location Name
From a sprint to a marathon The race to restoring a failing water distribution system in Jackson, MS
Asset Management

Jackson, Mississippi residents have endured years of water main breaks, boil water notices, and low to no water pressure. In August 2022, a flood caused the OB Curtis water treatment plant to shut down, creating a citywide crisis. Nearly 150,000 residents and businesses are dependent on a system that was on the brink of catastrophic failure. A federal emergency response necessitated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) step in to secure the needed funding and assign a third-party interim manager (TPIM) to oversee the system and restore reliable service. In late November 2022, a federal Stipulated Order appointed Mr. Ted Henifin, PE as the TPIM, charged with restoring the beleaguered system and to provide safe and reliable water service to citizens of Jackson. Mr. Henifin had recently retired as General Manager of Hampton Roads Sanitation District in Virginia Beach, VA, culminating a career with over 40 years in utility operations. His experience and leadership are just what Jackson needed. With hundreds of miles of failing distribution system pipelines, where does one begin? First, the engineering team digitized nearly 20,000 scanned atlas maps and plan drawings to create a distribution system GIS map. A parallel effort was also taken on early to create a system hydraulic model which didn’t exist and is critical to understanding how the system worked. These tasks helped the team assess the system operation and to identify the most critical distribution system elements and future improvements. The hydraulic model and GIS system mapping also gave the team an understanding of how repairs and replacements could be implemented to improve and not further damage the existing fragile system. Hundreds of leaks in Jackson’s system from 2” up to 48” needed immediate action to stabilize the distribution system. Some of these emergency repairs led to additional leaks forming in other areas as pressures increased in the deteriorated pipes. Such a dire situation meant developing a holistic plan to rehabilitate Jackson’s entire water system over many years. Our presentation will summarize the initial stages of the project, unique challenges along the way, and approach for the coming years. We will highlight how the TPIM is focusing on the most critical system needs while balancing available funding and local resources and knowledge. This project also aims to give the community confidence that the work is being done to provide a more reliable and safe water supply in the future.