By Ben Smith:
I love fishing, boating, or swimming in the Pearl River as much as anyone. Ever since I was a young kid, I can remember going there with my uncle to run trot lines and camp out. Some of my favorite memories of camping out on sandbars are from the Pearl. Some of my least favorite memories of camping out on sandbars are from there, too. Over the years, I’ve caught plenty of fish, stoked many a fire, and lost plenty of blood along the banks of this river. It was also the first river that I took my children camping on…something that I’ll never forget. However, recently I’m disgusted by what is happening to one of my favorite places on Earth.
Let’s be honest for a second. Jackson, Mississippi, home of our state capital, is an absolute dump. Anyone that thinks differently has their head buried in the sand or is too afraid of being labeled politically incorrect. First, there was the water crisis in Jackson…something that is still not totally repaired. Next, there is the garbage pickup crisis that is currently ongoing. And we need not forget the crime. Visiting Jackson these days should only be done by adrenaline junkies looking for a natural high. Hank Williams Jr. wrote in his famous song, “Country Boy Can Survive” that “you’re gonna get mugged if you go downtown”. I’m not sure whether, or not, he was talking about Jackson, but the shoe certainly fits. And if you’re fortunate enough not to run into confrontation, the odds are high that you’ll have something stolen from your vehicle…if your vehicle wasn’t stolen entirely.
Like most places, and most incidents, crap usually rolls downhill…literally. When Jackson fails to fix its problems, the rest of Mississippi suffers. In this case, let’s talk about the Pearl River. Beginning in Neshoba County, the Pearl slithers its way 444 miles through Mississippi and Louisiana before dumping into Lake Borgne in the Louisiana marshland. As far as mileage actually in Mississippi, it’s second only to the Mississippi River. The Pearl is important to all sorts of wildlife ranging from whitetail deer, black bears, and alligators. The river runs through many towns on its journey to the Gulf of Mexico…including Jackson. This is where our problem begins.
After the Pearl runs through the Ross Barnett Reservoir, it continues through the city of Jackson…or Jackghanistan (whichever you prefer). By the time it makes its way south of Jackson to Byram, the water could take the paint off of an aluminum boat. One with any “walking around sense” wouldn’t dare swim in the polluted waters of the Pearl just south of Jackson. Like me, I’m quite sure that fishing is a way of life for a lot of people in this area but eating fish from this area of the river might be akin to playing “Russian Roulette”. It might not kill you at first, but sooner or later you’re going to suffer.
According to a recent court filing, there has been 4.7 billion gallons of untreated, or partially treated, wastewater dumped in the Pearl River since March 2020 via the city of Jackson. Yes, you read that correctly…4.7 BILLION. And yes, you also read that correctly…the city of Jackson. I was just as shocked as you when I first read that news. But wait, there’s more! This didn’t just begin in 2020 where the city of Jackson can blame Covid like they blame Covid for every one of their shortcomings. In 2012, the EPA and the MDEQ gave Jackson up to 18 years to fix its sewage issues regarding the Pearl, requiring most to be repaired in 11 years. The majority of these repairs have not been made, and Jackson continues to pollute the river and punish those south of the city.
The big question regarding the river remains…is it safe? The answer to that question is that it largely depends on where you are. The river was so badly polluted in 2020 that the MDEQ issued a contact advisory for recreational activities involving the river and waterways connected to it. There may not currently be an advisory, but there’s still sewage flowing from the cesspool to the north, so I’d be leery about venturing into the water around there. As far as how the river is in the southern part of the state, I’ll say that I’ve fished and swam in the river since 2020 with no known diseases contracted. However, with the information that I have at hand now, I’ll probably avoid swimming in the river, or eating anything from the river, anywhere further north of Georgetown. Something about wading around in 4.7 billion gallons of feces from Jackson just makes the hair on my neck stand up and my stomach churn a little.
So, what’s the purpose of this article? For one, it was pretty eye opening for me to read just how poor of a job our state is doing to protect our citizens and our environment. I don’t know who the blame falls on, but I know that person should be relieved of their leadership position. Secondly, it’s to remind you that conservation is a must. Whether its deer, turkey, alligators, or our rivers, we must do our part to ensure that future generations get the opportunity to experience God’s creation. I’m no tree hugging hippie by any stretch, but I’m smart enough to know that if we don’t take care of our environment that one day it will be gone. Hopefully, the new bill will address these issues and hold Jackson accountable for ruining our river because it’s obvious that Jackson just doesn’t care.
Protecting sources of drinking water is an effective way to reduce risks to public health, instill customer confidence, and control water treatment costs. Addressing water quality concerns at the source also has many other environmental and societal benefits that aren’t seen from treatment alone. The best way to assure we have high quality drinking water at the tap is to protect our beautiful water sources. If we keep our rivers, lakes and underground wells free from pollution, it’s easier and less expensive to keep water safe and healthy. Now, this information comes from Source Water Protection that our leaders are supposed to follow. Your article is wonderful and very personal and informative. When I speak out about our contaminations that we face due to negligent on a major inhumane level I always start with Erin Brockovich’s story then I also acknowledge that Erin has had to return to that part of Texas once again to address the deadly contamination that is still in that area. Oh, we don’t just have an issue with water, food, and the list goes on we have a brain adaptation as well. I have been in media marketing advertising but most of all I have been in this epidemic battlefield that you described in this article to save many. My story is long, so I am trying hard to make this short. But it’s long because I have done a lot of research. Let’s go over new articles to what some organizations figured out about the subject like fish. We have not just an opiate crisis in the brains of humans but in our fish as well. Now, here lately we have knowledge that some fish and other living organisms are radioactive, but that article is not out yet. You talked about the crime. Now I want you to think about the human brain that has been exposed to not just a health crisis but Toxic violent trends, an illiterate crisis, a drug crisis, and many other subjects of toxic crap. Now think Stockholm syndrome. Think Impaired non-functional, whistling in the graveyard, six learn toxic behaviors, the syndrome, and a tactic to guard our developments. Our leaders, media, corporate, and a percentage in the USA is contaminated within the brain that overseas has never faced. Even the Queen made Acts for clean air and water. Overseas in Japan, they leave their cars unlocked. Now think about the power play and the targeting that Erin went through as well as many others to engage to shift one subject the right way. The people drink that water in her area because only a clinical syndrome would do so. What we must engage to implement is what you call a rehabilitation proactive shift in the way of ordering and commanding them to do their jobs. Your article is great and very informative yet they who are not just in the sand or rose color glasses but dead rose color glasses and their whole body is in the sand which is a Metaphor of their phycological adaption. They could never show compassion to the real developers over here and they targeted ones like Erin. We must learn a new way of informing and commanding and uniting. One more thing, even though this is too long I know. The kids who are now young adults that I save left the USA and live overseas and stated that they would not come back here because so many are a target for 2 times 2 equals four information’s, and this was not worth being a target over…
There is an enormous difference between conservationists, who care about the environment because they actually go outside to hunt and fish, versus environmentalists who never spend any time outdoors. The first group does far more to protect the natural world than the second.
IMO Jackson is not and will not be held accountable for their pollution. The city leadership are narcissistic democrats, that have run the city since 1995. The city can’t recover due to gross mismanagement and bogus thug leaders. They are racist. Any attempt to better Jackson by legislature bring howls of injustice from residents. They scream, “white men are trying to take control over the only major black run city in the south”! Question: is the state of affairs in Jackson something blacks are proud of? It’s time someone else starting running things. There are great black leaders in our midst. Why do the people of Jackson keep being duped by the thugs and narcissists they keep electing?
To my knowledge of 69 years, no one I’m aware of has ever fished or swam in the Pearl River south of Jackson. I’m not saying it isn’t much worse today than it was 60 years ago but it has always been contaminated. The leaders of our Capital city just don’t seem to care about any form of contamination. I suppose when dysentery and other diseases from filth start killing people, maybe something will be done, but I doubt it. Today’s officials seek to rule and dominate instead of providing proper management of life supporting services for their fellow men, women and children.
I work in south Jackson. I see and hear a lot of things (wrong things). I had my truck broken in to, I’ve had people and children of the black race to treat me like crap. I treat everyone, not matter what color they are, equally. That’s how I’ve always been. I’m very close to retiring but seriously thinking about relocating somewhere that is more safe. I really love my job and my customers but it’s awful !!! Jackson is not doing anything to the people who do wrong !!!! Jackson needs a white mayor and a white chief of police to turn Jackson around.