Phillip Young, a resident from Jackson, Mississippi, takes a break while helping volunteers distribute bottles of water during the city’s water infrastructure crisis. Credit: CNN

When torrential rainfall in August 2022 pushed the Pearl River in Mississippi to surge well beyond its banks, floodwaters spilled into the suburbs of Jackson and led an already-hobbled water treatment plant to fail.

It was the final stroke in what experts described as a yearslong issue in the making, which eventually left tens of thousands of residents in the city without clean drinking water for weeks.

What happened in Jackson, experts say, is a bellwether for what’s to come if America continues to kick the can down the road in addressing its aging and crumbling water infrastructure. The climate crisis threatens to make those issues even more pressing.

When sea levels rise, summers become hotter or heavy rains lead to more flooding, the country’s water infrastructure – largely built last century and only designed to last roughly 75 years – will be more strained than […]

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