A water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi wreaked havoc for more than 150,000 citizens this summer. Heavy rains challenged the O.B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell water treatment plants, and left people without running water. The governor declared a state of emergency on August 30, 2022 which remains in effect today. A big part of the problem was staffing at the city's two water treatment plants.
The city's plants only have two operators with a Class A level license and the tribal knowledge it takes to get the job done. As a result, they have been working more than 80 hours every week to try and produce clean water for the city’s citizens.
Yesterday, the city council voted to bring in some help and hire contract workers from California to staff the facilities. According to the AP, WaterTalent LLC will send four skilled water operators to lend a hand at the struggling water treatment plants. WaterTalent specializes in providing skilled labor that can be deployed to emergency situations.
The new water talent will make about $40 per hour and will remain in place until the city finds a long-term solution. The new workers start Sunday, hopefully giving the current staff a bit of a reprieve.
While infrastructure remains the top concern for the water industry, the workforce is aging out and many poor small towns struggle to provide safe tap water. Perhaps companies like WaterTalent can help bridge the skills gap while the industry finds a suitable enduring solution to the talent shortage.