Southern Regional Water Program

Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System

Drinking Water & Human Health in Mississippi

Mississippi citizens are fortunate in that they enjoy plentiful supplies of safe drinking water. According to the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS), more than 90 percent of the state's population gets drinking water from underground sources. Generally, these underground sources are less susceptible to pollution than are surface water sources.

While most citizens of the state have access to public water systems, it is estimated that about 15 percent of the state's population use private wells as a drinking water source. Although few serious problems have been reported with these private sources, aesthetic problems such as hard water and presence of iron are issues in many areas of the state for those who continue to use private wells.

Despite these plentiful supplies of relatively safe drinking water, it is important that all citizens take steps to reduce contamination risks and ensure safe water in the future. Programs by the Mississippi State University (MSU) are designed to help citizens become proactive in protecting their drinking water supplies.

Conditions in Your Area

The Environmental Protection Agency provides information on drinking water systems by county and the Mississippi State Department of Health maintains online water quality advisories for some localities.

Resources and Programs

MSU education and Extension programs are available to the public to address drinking water quality concerns. These programs also may be designed to provide water quality information to specific audiences such as youth, farmers and other rural citizens, small businesses and other audiences.

Extension Outreach

Mississippi State University is home to Mississippi State University Extension Service, which develops and delivers programs designed to provide educational outreach into all counties of the state. Outreach education enables the research developed at colleges and universities and from other sources throughout the world to be interpreted and delivered to the end user, which is often a home or business owner or agricultural producer. Some of the major Extension education programs addressing drinking water and human health are:

The Mississippi Farm*A*Syst and Home*A*Syst programs have provided water quality information to more than 3,000 farmers and other rural residents. Each year more than 5,000 young people receive information through demonstrations on how drinking water may become contaminated and ways to reduce risks of contamination. More than 2,000 limited resource forestry landowners have received similar information through the Mississippi Underserved Forestry Landowner Program.

Safe Drinking Water in an Emergency outlines steps for ensuring a safe drinking water supply in emergencies such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and ice storms.

Research and Extension programs also help farmers, poultry producers, greenhouse growers and other small businesses with special water quality assistance. For more information about these and other water quality programs administered through Mississippi State University, visit

College and University Education

Youth and continuing adult education are critical to develop new talent and human resources to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in drinking water and human health are available within several departments at Mississippi State University. Graduate and undergraduate programs in key departments include:

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