Mississippi Private Well Populations

Author(s): Barrett, J.

Most residents of Mississippi are served by one of the over 1,200 public water systems. 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. Mississippi 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. This 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. The concluding data can be utilized to better strategize water infrastructure improvements and well monitoring programs. This study should be of interest to representatives of local municipal water systems, local communities, and rural water associations for potential expansion of their water systems. The expansion of a public water system may achieve multiple goals. Additional customers generate more revenue of the public water system, as well as provide a larger customer base in which to spread costs. The regulatory oversight of public water systems should promote and produce a safer drinking water supply for Mississippi residents.

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