Jackson hires former HRSD GM Henifin as interim water manager

The City of Jackson, Mississippi, has appointed Ted Henifin as interim third-party manager of the water system. Henifin will be tasked with correcting some the disorder that has plagued system in recent years, culminating in this summer’s crises that left hundred of thousands with access to potable water.

Henifin’s last major role was general manager of Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which he left at the end of 2021. His career spans 40 years and he has held roles in public works and utilities in at the local, regional and federal levels.

Henifin will oversee the water system and according to local reports, has said he will prioritize fixing staffing issues and addressing problems with the water distribution system, as well as repairing trust with the community.

This summer, the city issued a boil-water notice on July 29 as a result of problems in the distribution system. Pressure issues at the O.B. Curtis Water Plant then resulted in low or no water pressure for many Jackson customers. The low pressure was caused by the flooding of the Pearl River causing low tank levels and other disruptions to the treatment process. By Aug. 29, the city proclaimed an emergency as a result of excessive rainfall and extreme flooding, which prevented parts of the system from delivering any running potable water to most of the population of approximately 160,000 served, thereby foreclosing use of running water for basic drinking, hygiene, and safety purposes such as washing hands, showering, flushing toilets, fighting fires and washing dishes.

The July 29, 2022, boil-water notice remained in effect until Sept. 15.

In response to the crisis, the City of Jackson set up several bottled water distribution sites for residents in need of potable water. It also brought in tankers to distribute non-potable water to residents for purposes such as flushing toilets, washing clothes and cleaning. Residents were asked to bring containers such as a garbage cans or coolers to store the water. The boil water notice was lifted on Sept. 15.

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