JACKSON (AP) — In a federal complaint Tuesday, the NAACP said Mississippi officials “all but assured” a drinking water calamity in Jackson by depriving the state’s majority-Black capital city of badly needed funds to upgrade its infrastructure. The organization asked the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the state’s alleged pattern of steering money to white communities with less need.

The group said the state’s refusal to fund improvements in Jackson culminated in late August when the water system suffered a near-total collapse after a heavy rainstorm. Over 25 years, it said, Jackson received funds from an important federal program only three times. When Jackson tried to fund improvements itself, those efforts were repeatedly blocked by Mississippi state political leaders, according to the complaint.

NAACP president Derrick Johnson lives in Jackson and joined other local residents in filing the complaint with the EPA under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids anyone who receives federal funds from discriminating based on race or national origin. In the past, this part of the law has rarely been used on environmental matters, but the Biden administration has promised to step up enforcement in communities overburdened by pollution.



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