Health department gives city water department perfect score

Billy Ray Allen, a veteran Public Works employee who became the department director 10 months ago, received an important report card this month: a perfect score from the Mississippi State Department of Health regarding oversight of the city’s water department.

The state health department, in a new report, gives the city a perfect 5.0 score in the technical capacity, general management and financial oversight of the water department, which has 14,000 accounts and provides water to tens of thousands of residents and millions of visitors to the city.

The health department report is one of two reports issued annually; the other is the Quality of Drinking Water report, a consumer confidence report that shows the results of water tests at the two-dozen city-maintained wells throughout the city.

“This health department report is an outstanding accomplishment for the men and women of the Public Works Department,” said Allen, who has worked for the city for 40 years and whom Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich appointed in January to head the Public Works Department. “I’m very proud of this accomplishment” Allen declared. “This report and the annual consumer confidence report show residents, businesses and visitors that we are not only delivering safe and quality drinking water, but we are managing the system in a professional manner.”

Achieving the perfect score was especially challenging, given the unprecedented amount of infrastructure work underway in east Biloxi, Allen added, and since the department scored lower last year because of not having all of its paperwork readily available.

“We are aware that we have a lot more work to do to make our system even better,” Allen said. “We have some issues with our billing software that we need to work out, and we’re working with our infrastructure contractor to make sure we have a smooth transition from the current water system to the new system that is being installed now in east Biloxi. But the fact is, even with all of these challenges, the state found us to be doing an outstanding job.”

Biloxi’s water department, by the way, is actually three systems: one that serves the Biloxi peninsula, with 9,000 accounts; a system north of the Bay, which serves 4,300 accounts; and  small system of 868 accounts that was formerly known as French Utilities, serving areas of Biloxi that were annexed in 1999.

“It’s one thing to get a perfect score when you have one well that serves a thousand customers,” Allen said, “but it’s a much more impressive achievement when you maintain two dozen water wells in three systems serving thousands of residents and millions of visitors. We take this responsibility very seriously.”
See the report for the peninsula
See the report for north of the Bay
See the report for former French Utilities customers
See the annual water quality reports