May 5, 2023
Making water safe to drink is just part of the equation in managing Starkville’s water supply. The other part is building and maintaining infrastructure to reliably deliver drinking water to customers whenever they need it. Professionals who provide those services take center stage during national Drinking Water Week May 7-13.
“We rely on our water system more than we may realize,” said Edward Kemp, Starkville Utilities general manager. “It protects public health, fights fires, supports the economy and provides everyday conveniences. We’re fortunate to have a multiskilled team of employees who focus every day on keeping Starkville’s water system operating safely and reliably.”
Sponsored by the American Water Works Association, Drinking Water Week recognizes the vital role water plays in everyday life for water professionals and the communities they serve. This year’s focus is on infrastructure and why ongoing investment is critical in ensuring that water can be reliably transported from collection to treatment to consumers.
“Access to clean, safe drinking water is vital to our daily health, hygiene and hydration,” said American Water Works Association CEO David LaFrance. “Professionals in the water sector work tirelessly to ensure we have affordable access to the high-quality water we need to strengthen our everyday life and broader communities today and in the future.”
Last year, Starkville Utilities employees processed and delivered more than 1.838 billion gallons of safe drinking water to customers and earned a perfect score from the Mississippi State Department of Health in its most recent drinking water supply inspection report.
Starkville Utilities also continues making progress on water and sewer upgrade projects to serve Starkville’s current needs and future growth, including an extensive utility system upgrade beginning later this month on Main Street.
Even with a city-approved rate increase last year to fund ongoing capital improvements, Starkville Utilities customers have some of the lowest water and sewer rates in Mississippi when compared to similarly sized municipalities.
Resilience is another important characteristic of robust infrastructure and is defined as its ability to withstand and adapt to changing conditions and recover from shocks and stresses such as weather-induced events.
That was the case last December when a winter storm swept through the U.S., wreaking havoc on many utility systems. Other than two leaks attributed to the extreme cold, Starkville’s infrastructure was resilient and performed well during the storm, which enabled employees to focus on helping customers who were dealing with burst pipes.
Over the Christmas weekend, nearly half of the water division’s staff worked around the clock in extreme weather to answer the large volume of calls.
“It was an outstanding team effort driven by employees’ dedication and commitment, as well as their training and preparation,” Kemp said. “They answered every call, even when it meant leaving their homes and families on Christmas. What mattered more to them was helping our customers in a time of crisis. Being there when our community needs us is a standard of professionalism we strive for every day.”
Starkville Utilities is a public utility serving 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville, Mississippi as well as Mississippi State University. Its mission is to supply safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric and water service of superior quality and value that improves the lives of its customers.