Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Emison, Gerald A.

Committee Member

French, P. Edward

Committee Member

Travis, Rick

Committee Member

Shaffer, Stephen D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


Mississippi has an abundant supply of underground aquifers which are utilized by community water systems as their source of drinking water. As the demand for water increases through the increasing population and the influx of industries, there is a need to manage the consumption and distribution of this valuable resource. Since its inception, the Mississippi drinking water industry has spawned new regulations, new management options, and creative ideas to promote a safer more efficient community water system. The Mississippi State Department of Health-Bureau of Public Water Supply’s Capacity Development Assessment is a comprehensive survey completed annually for every community water system in Mississippi. The Capacity Development Assessment will be used to gauge the quality of performance of the specified community water systems based exclusively on size classification, exclusively on government structure classification, and government structure by size classification. Over the past 15 years, Mississippi has seen several centralization efforts occur, where a municipality, utility district, and/or a rural water association merges with one or multiple adjoining or close proximity community water systems. This results in one of the three main legal structures of government over community water systems increasing in size in an effort to heighten performance. This research has analyzed the size (population) and government structures of Mississippi community water systems and has determined that economies of scale do exist. Government structure alone does not have an effect on the performance of community water systems but size alone does have an effect on the performance of community water systems. Municipalities and rural water associations reach optimal performance at the medium size classification and utility districts reach optimal performance at the small size classification. Regardless of the driving force, it is valuable to see that all of the Mississippi consolidating government structures are able to achieve optimal performance. Future state and/or federal legislatures, county governments, city governments, public water supply associations, and business economic drivers can benefit by knowing which structure(s) of community water system governance is the most productive and efficient when the time comes to explore the option of persuasion or mandates to increase viability or heighten performance.