An Assessment of Private Wells Used for Drinking Water in Mississippi and Alabama

Author(s): Barrett, J.; Grammer, P.

Most residents of Mississippi and Alabama are served by one of the over 1,700 public water systems in these states. Having access to a public water system provides citizens with safety and quality of water through the regulatory enforcement of the Mississippi State Department of Health-Bureau of Public Water Supply (MSDH) and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). Mississippi and Alabama citizens on private wells do not have the luxury of knowing the quality and/or quantity of their water on a regular basis. Unfortunately, a reliable method for determining the population that depends on a private well for their water supply has not existed since the 1990 census. This presentation will compare currently available methods and present a new methodology for estimating private well usage in Mississippi and Alabama. This novel method uses connections reported to the Safe Drinking Water Information System adjusted to account for non-residential connections, along with census data to generate improved estimates that are quite different from other available sources. This method has been used to generate well usage estimates for all counties in Mississippi and Alabama that can be utilized to better strategize water infrastructure improvements and well monitoring programs.

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