Community Update: Vol. 1

JXN Water is committed to every resident having access to safe drinking water all day, every day.

JXN Water will share regular updates with customers bringing you the latest on efforts to learn more about the improvements being made throughout the community.

Good Things Happening

JXN Water is committed to continuing to search for ways to assist customers in addressing payment challenges as we work to clean up the billing system.

Through the People’s Relief Campaign, JXN Water has provided debt relief to more than 6,000 customers for disputed balances that had past due bills prior to December 1, 2022.

JXN Water applied for more than $900,000 of the Federal Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) and received over $500,000 in March to apply to eligible accounts to reduce or eliminate outstanding balances for more than 300 customers. The balance of LIHWAP funding, more than $400,000, is expected this month.

Contract Operations for Treatment Plants and Wells

On February 20, JXN Water signed a contract with Jacobs to operate and maintain the two water treatment plants (JH Fewell and OB Curtis) and the well system serving parts of South Jackson and the Town of Byram.

This contract brought experts needed to run and maintain the plant, ensuring safe water is always available for all customers. More than 20 former City of Jackson employees accepted jobs with Jacobs to support plant operations under this contract.

Understanding the Water Distribution System

Two city employees working for JXN Water, Jordan Hillman and Terence Byrd, opened more than 40 large valves critical to transport water through transmission and distribution lines. As a result, areas with low pressures are more stable and are seeing pressures level improve. Jordan and Terence found valves that may have been closed through water quality testing at fire hydrants and reviewing water levels in storage tanks throughout the system. This work will continue for the remainder of 2023 and will continue to balance water pressures in the system.

JXN Water continues to learn exactly how the distribution system should be operated. In the past 10 years, retirements and departures of key staff members who had important knowledge of the system left the water utility with no record of positions and conditions of the estimated 4,000 valves in the system.

Finding and Fixing Leaks

JXN Water is taking many steps to address leaks and repairs.

Fixing Lost Water
The amount of water lost daily from the system range from 20 to 30 million gallons each day. That is enough to supply another city of 200,000 people. This lost water puts unnecessary pressure on the entire system. Lost water also wastes needed funding at a cost of about $10,000 to $15,000 daily.

JXN Water has contracted with two local firms to address large pipe breaks, leaks, valve replacements and related work. Another contractor is working on smaller leaks throughout the system, working off the backlog of reported leaks and fixing others found in work areas.

Addressing Critical Repairs
National engineering firm Stantec is managing particularly challenging repairs, requiring special skills and equipment. The first major leak repair began in March on a leak found along Purple Creek in an abandoned golf course property. The leak was about 5 million gallons per day.

The leak was too big to repair under pressure and the 48-inch diameter pipe too critical to provide water to South Jackson to be taken out of service to make the repair. As a result, a specialized contractor was bought in from Texas to install a bypass pipe to ensure service would be maintained to all JXN Water customers during the repair. The completed repair is expected this month.

Next Steps
Lost water is a significant issue in the JXN Water system. Long-term, JXN Water is installing a continuous leak detection system. The system will use sensors through our new advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) meters in combination with a series of monitors shared throughout the larger pipe system to listen for leaks and alert JXN Staff when leaks are found.

Replacing Small Diameter Pipes

The City of Jackson water system has over 100 miles of pipes, four-inch diameter and less that are below industry standards. Modern standards require a minimum pipe diameter of six inches. These small diameter pipes impact color, taste, and odor of water and reduce pressures in the areas they serve. All of this piping needs to be replaced.

The JXN Water plan calls for replacing several miles of small diameter pipes each year for the next five to ten years. The entire street will be replaced along with all the water and sewer lines. The first mile of this work is under design as a pilot project with the goal of starting construction in the summer of 2023.

JXN Water Scholarship

JXN Water took a first step towards developing water talent in Jackson to ensure future workforce needs can be met with Jackson residents.

In March, a new scholarship for Jackson Public School students pursuing a science or technical course of study at Hinds County Community College became available. The scholarship provides money for a full semester and can be awarded up to four times for a student – enough to earn an associate’s degree.

The scholarship is managed by the Community Foundation for Mississippi. Contributions are accepted anytime here.

Improving Jackson’s Water Systems

While many good things are happening, challenges remain with the water system.

Improving Infrastructure

Significant equipment and process modernizations, repairs, and replacements are needed to fully restore full capacity, required redundancy, and efficient operations. HDR, a national engineering firm, is focused on these projects under the overall management of JXN Water and Jacobs Consulting. These projects will continue through the next 24 months and once complete will extend the useful life of the water treatment facilities by as much as 50 years.

The distribution system requires more work to ensure pressures can be maintained at all times. A computer-based model was developed for the entire system and will be used to identify specific improvements to the system. The improvements are expected to be identified in late 2023 for implementation in 2024 through 2025.

Improving Billing

The metering and billing system continue to require significant investment and attention to get to the point every water user is receiving a bill reflective of their fair share of the cost to run and keep the system up to date.

After years of failed metering efforts, the current contract is making progress towards completion of the installation of meters at known customer addresses. It will take another 18 to 24 months to find all the properties without accounts and get meters installed at those locations. In the interim, a new billing method may be needed to ensure JXN Water can generate the revenue necessary to provide water to all.

Water and Sewer Billing Building Being Repaired After Storm

Adding to the billing and payment complications, the building that housed the City of Jackson Water and Sewer Billing Administration was severely damaged by a recent storm, blowing out all the glass at the public entrance. The building is unsafe for public access.

JXN Water is working with a network of payment locations spread throughout the service area for in-person payments and will continue to work to make on-line and remote (phone) payments easier, more accessible, and service charge free in the near future.

Upcoming Events

Community Solution Sessions Set for June
JXN Water is committed to hearing from the community as we continue plans to improve the water system. This includes hearing directly from residents regarding the future leadership of the city’s water utility services and the structure that will govern its action once the federal court order ends.

From June 12 to June 20, residents in each ward will have an opportunity to participate in meetings that will give our team an opportunity to hear directly from everyone.

Specific dates and locations for meetings in each ward will be shared soon. For more information about the upcoming meetings and how you can participate, email solutions@jxnwater.com .

We will regularly share news about how JXN Water is getting better for the community. To stay connected and continue receiving updates, text jxnwater to 866-510-0973 to subscribe to our messaging list.

As always, we will regularly update our customers and community with news about repairs and enhancements to the system.