Mississippi College Law Review

Publication Date

Fall 2023


40,000. That is the number of residents that were left without potable water for nearly five weeks during Jackson, Mississippi’s February 2021 water crisis. An unusual cold front rolled through, freezing plant equipment, bursting water pipes, and causing many in Jackson to lose access to running water. This was not, however, the first time that Jackson residents had endured hardships with regard to their drinking water—it was just the first time that national attention turned to, and has seemed to remain on, Mississippi’s capital city. Those in Jackson are all too familiar with water pipes bursting, low water pressure, boil water notices, and a water supply contaminated with lead.

Access to clean drinking water is taken for granted by most in the United States (U.S.); however, for a disadvantaged minority, such as those in Jackson, it seemed—and sometimes still seems—nearly unattainable. The human right to water has been recognized as a “prerequisite for the realization of other human rights” and was even declared a fundamental human right itself—just not by the U.S. However, growing concerns about the availability of safe drinking water in communities across the U.S. led the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), in response to a charge from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2016, to release a report with recommendations on water infrastructure needs in disadvantaged communities. Ironically, the first goal included in the report was that Governments treat water as a human right.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.