JACKSON, Mich. (WLBT) – Technology developed by a nonprofit partnering with Jaden Smith could help the city of Jackson reduce its use of plastic bottles while providing residents with clean water. .

On Tuesday, the city council approved a contract to house the “Water Box” water purification system at Fire Stations 1 and 20.

The box will be deployed for one year and provided free of charge with a grant from Ann Arbor-based 501C3THREE. The company will cover all setup costs associated with installing and operating a machine capable of producing 10 gallons of clean drinking water every 15 seconds.

“I got a call from someone who did this kind of work in Flint and thought it would be a good thing to try to get more people to drink water without having it. [to use] Bottled water,” said Fire Chief Willie Owens.

Jackson will receive an extra water box for next year for free.
Jackson will receive an extra water box for next year for free.(WLBT)

The technology was first used in Flint, Michigan because of the water crisis there. It was also introduced to Jackson in 2021 following the city’s winter water crisis, and the current Water His Box is located at the Sykes Community Center at 520 Sykes Rd.

According to the 501CTHREE website, the technology was developed by actors Jaden Smith and Drew Fitzgerald, sons of Will and Jada’s Pinkett Smith.

In 2021, its efforts eliminated the need for approximately 886,000 single-use plastic bottles and produced 111,000 gallons of drinking water for underserved communities.

Under the terms of the contract, 501CTHREE will support the cost of processing up to 62,400 gallons of water per month, water testing at the beginning and end of the program period, telephone and field support for system operation and maintenance .

After the program ends, Jackson will be able to continue using the equipment at his own expense, Owens said.

Mayor Chokwe Antal Lumumba said, “Many people have come to me about this technology and how it can support our needs of providing water during a crisis.” of fire departments and firefighters [our water] distribution effort.

The vote comes amid Jackson’s ongoing water crisis. In August, an equipment failure at the OB Curtis Water Treatment Plant caused water pressure to drop in tens of thousands of connections between the capital and Byram.

The Mississippi National Guard and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency were deployed to help distribute water during the crisis. By Sept. 12, more than 10 million single-use bottles had been handed out, said Malalee White, MEMA’s chief communications officer.

“That’s just on the MEMA side. This doesn’t include the amount of donations received by the church or others,” she said.

Some, including Kieran Sanders, executive director of Keep Jackson Beautiful, worry that the large number of bottles will cause long-term environmental problems.

He said KJB has set up seven recycling collection sites, including Smith Wills Stadium, Mississippi State Fairgrounds and Jackson Medical Mall. The group is also finalizing an agreement with Jackson Public Schools to set up recycling sites on all school campuses.

“If they just put it in the trash, it’s going to go in the trash,” Sanders previously said. So if you want to be conscientious and look after your children’s children, don’t go into landfills or oceans.”

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