Mississippi Private Well Owner Demographics and Characteristics

Author(s): Barrett, J.

Mississippi citizens who acquire their drinking water from private wells do not have the luxury of knowing the quality of their drinking water on a regular basis unless they are making the effort to have their water screened and tested. Approximately 90% of Mississippi citizens are served by one of the over 1,200 public water systems which provide safe reliable water under the regulatory enforcement of the Mississippi State Department of Health-Bureau of Public Water Supply. Private well owners are free to operate and maintain their wells because there is no regulatory oversight. For some private well owners, this freedom is welcome but others want to know the quality of their drinking water.

No demographic data about private well owners has been compiled since the 1990 census. At Mississippi State University Extension workshops for the Mississippi Well Owner Network in which private well owners were able to have their well water screened for bacteria, demographic data was collected. This presentation will compare demographic data and characteristics of current private well owners with those from the 1990 census as well as compare to overall Mississippi demographic data. The concluding data can be utilized to better understand and serve Mississippi private well owners.

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 for 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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