Statement Of Ted Henifin Before The Honorable Henry T. Wingate

July 13, 2023

JXN Water releases the closing statement of Interim Third-Party Manager Ted Henifin shared in Judge Wingate’s courtroom earlier today:

  • Thank you, your honor, for holding this status conference and for giving me the opportunity to provide a few closing thoughts.  I will try to be brief.
  • Being responsible for the drinking water system in Jackson, MS, especially given the history of the failures that residents have endured for so long, is an immense and humbling one for me and my team.
  • I have a small team of caring people who only want the best for the citizens of Jackson.  They bravely stepped into the management and operational void at great risk to their reputations and careers.  The job descriptions, qualifications, and the method by which fair compensation was determined were discussed in detail during a previous status conference. In the case of Jordan Hillman, her salary – market based for the new responsibilities she has assumed as the Chief Operating Officer of JXN Water is approximately 185 percent above her previous salary with the city. She earns every penny in that as she is responsible for practically every improvement in the system JXN Water has accomplished to date. She works around the clock – everyday of the week. We would be struggling without her knowledge, expertise, and passion. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude.
  • The same is true of the major contractors we have hired – both within Jackson and from outside.
  • We learned a lot over the past two days.
  • We appreciate all the people that took time to be here in person or sent in statements or who just listened in.  I hope all of you will stay engaged.  We will need your support and confidence if we are to truly be successful.
  • There were many common themes:
    • The water system has been struggling for a long time
    • Most speakers feared that it would take upwards of a decade to fix
    • There is little trust in the water quality
    • People are so accustomed to receiving Precautionary Boil Water Notices that they are suspect when they are no longer seeing them regularly
  • We are aware of these concerns and have been working to prioritize our efforts.


  • JXN Water has been racing to accomplish the top two priorities:
    • Ensure the water is treated at the plants to be safe – meet all standards
    • Ensure the system pressure is maintained to get all customers pressurized water at all times
  • There are thousands of miles of pipes and water infrastructure that keep water flowing every day in the City of Jackson. Water crews are fixing leaks and main breaks that waste the water you need and cause water availability issues.
  • Since February 2023, we’ve repaired nearly 200 leaks and opened 90 closed valves.
  • Water operators are creating a professional system that maintains the water treatment plants and distribution system according to industry standards.
  • In the months ahead, JXN Water will improve the distribution system, replacing small-diameter pipes and upgrading treatment processes at the water plants.


  • JXN Water was created under the direction of Judge Wingate and with the assistance of the City, State, USEPA, and USDOJ, and your congressional representatives, because the people of Jackson could not wait years for systems that did not exist to be built and for expertise that did not exist locally to be grown. To expeditiously meet Judge Wingate’s demands for improving the water system, help was secured with qualified contractors who could deliver immediately. At the same time, we have worked foremost to partner with local firms whenever possible.  We are committed to engage with local firms even more extensively going forward – while insisting that they perform to the high standards we are trying to deliver as your water system.
  • JXN Water is inspiring a new generation of local water professionals who will take care of the system for their community well after the federal order is completed. We are standing up a minority contracting program with the assistance of a local minority owned consulting firm. Our goal is to directly employ small Black owned firms whenever possible, help navigate the sometimes challenging path to become a subcontractor to one of the prime contractors JXN Water is using, and ultimately to establish new Black owned small businesses with the capacity to perform many of the needed long-term maintenance and operational support work necessary  in Jackson and Central Mississippi long after this interim order has ended.


  • We have been at this for 7 months and have made great progress – opening valves, fixing leaks, building systems to support operations – GIS mapping, hydraulic modeling, asset management, and assessing all valves.  Soon we will evaluate all hydrants in the system – something not done in a long time and which will provide the JFD with critical data to support their operations.
  • During this status conference we learned how JFD has been successful in spite of decades of water issues in Jackson resulting in low pressures throughout the system – THEY COME TO EACH FIRE PREPARED TO FIGHT IT WITH WATER ON THEIR TRUCKS. Time is not lost when they encounter a dry hydrant as they have already developed plans to account for this potential – they are professionals and they are prepared.
  • Rather than wondering IF a hydrant will have water, when we are done they all will be color coded so with one glance the JFD will know how much pressure they can expect from each fire hydrant in the system.
  • We’ve been in regular communication with the JFD on the maintenance of fire hydrants and we’ll continue working together.


  • Let me be clear — Your water is safe, straight from the tap. We recognize that there can be issues with the plumbing in your home or office that can impact what’s happening with the water delivered to you. There can also be events with the distribution system such as water main breaks, broken pipes, flushing the water lines as part of normal system operations or sudden changes in temperature outside that can account for short-term discoloration and/or cloudiness.
    • Water meets all Federal and state requirements. The discussion this morning about the MSDH recommendation was covered at length during a previous status conference and the transcript is available to the public. I do not think we need to revisit that as a result of Mr. Kricun’s comments this morning. The MSDH recommendation is just that – a recommendation and not an advisory. It appears to have no regulatory basis and only applies to Jackson.
    • The consumption of water or anything else by vulnerable populations is a personal choice between the individual and their health care provider.
  • Taste and odor issues are very common in the water industry and are not new to utilities throughout the country, including here in Jackson.
  • Let us know if you have any issues.
  • Troubleshooting your water is something we’re here to do with customers to understand what is causing the issue. Please call customer service at 601-500-5200 so water quality professionals can help.
  • Your water is tested regularly and most of that testing is done right here in Jackson by highly trained Jacksonians. They care about your water because it’s their water too! The latest water quality report is available on with the most recent test results.


  • Over the past two days many people seem to be using the word transparency in the place of communications.
  • There are three ways to get the best and most credible information about JXN Water:
    • ONE – The website – and JXN Water social media posts
    • TWO – Our call center – 601-500-5200. Reach JXN Water anytime to manage new service requests, ask billing questions and report leaks.  601-500-5200 connects you to staff 24 hours per day, and every day of the year.
    • THREE – Directly from the JXN Water staff – with direct mailings to your home or business; at community meetings, events, town halls, etc. where JXN Water is present; other printed materials produced by JXN Water
  • We follow up. Call center representatives work with the JXN Water team to actively resolve issues and quickly get back to you.
  • Nothing is being hidden but we can do a better job communicating what information is already available on our website
    • The quarterly report – required by Your Honor’s Interim Stipulated Order, requires an in-depth discussion of everything JXN Water is doing. That report has been publicly available since it was completed at the end of April 2023. The next report will be equally informative and is due to be completed at the end of this month. There is no lack of transparency with that information – it just has not been communicated as well as we could.
    • The Financial Management Plan (referenced by at least one speaker) was posted at the end of January and really lays out the path forward – at least the one we could develop with the information we had at that time.
        • We know there is no lack of transparency about that because we have gotten a great deal of feedback on the issues addressed therein, including during this status conference.
        • One of those key issues has been the future of JXN Water.  On that subject, I have been transparent and consistent in my commitment that (1) the water system assets must remain publicly-owned and (2) that great weight must be given to the desires of the Citizens of Jackson as I develop any recommendations to the Court about how we ensure the water system will be resilient into the future.
        • One of my mantras – I reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow – will play out with updates to this plan – as we have better/new information – including public input – we will adjust our plan accordingly.
    • JXN Water has tried to accommodate any and all requests to speak to groups within the community – answering questions at all events – I personally have attended more than 30 since December and JXN Water staff has participated in another dozen. JXN Water has made accessibility a priority throughout these first 7 months, despite the overwhelming operational demands on our team.
  • We also learned we still have much room for improvement with communications.
    • JXN Water was stretched thin in these early months – we triaged the many things we needed to accomplish to ensure safe and pressurized water.
    • We recently had a two-day communications workshop at the end of June and our communications strategy is being developed with our communications team – staffed with various consultants.
      • Many things we discussed during that workshop align with the comments made here over the past two days – as we implement you will see improvements with JXN Water’s communications.
    • We also learned we have a blind spot for the Latino community here in Jackson and need to focus effort on reaching that community to ensure everyone has access to safe drinking water all the time.


  • We know we have a long way to go to earn back our customers’ trust that their water is safe, pressure is reliable, and their bill is accurate.
  • JXN Water takes all of the concerns seriously and we’re working hard to serve the community better every day.
  • Again, thank you Judge Wingate for this opportunity for the public to provide input on how we are doing and areas we need to improve while we strive to implement your Order to restore the water system. As has been discussed today, you have been a step ahead on these issues with the very detailed status conferences held to date. Those transcripts provide detailed answers to the questions raised and I encourage citizens to read them.