When looking towards Mississippi’s economic future, water supply should be considered a development tool. The life-sustaining resource is vital in energy production, manufacturing, and agriculture, and will always be a precious commodity. Moreover, with sound management and planning, abundant water can be a major competitive advantage for Mississippi in the economic development arena, and although Mississippi has its own water related challenges, water stress in other areas of the country raises uncertainty about sustainable water supply.
Mississippi State University’s Dr. Anna Linhoss recently completed work for MEI comparing Mississippi’s water quantity status with other southeastern states. Dr. Linhoss noted:
Generally, Mississippi has a competitive water advantage in the southeast with the second highest annual rainfall in the continental U.S., well distributed groundwater, and relatively low water consumption rates. Still, Mississippi is not immune to droughts or groundwater depletion having far fewer water supply reservoirs than any neighboring state and lacking a statewide water management plan. Uncertainty about long-term water supplies is already a concern in some regions of Mississippi. It is not a coincidence that several of Mississippi’s largest industries are located where public investment secured long-term water supplies (e.g. Jackson County Port Authority, Nissan, Toyota, and Yokohama Tire). Finally, Mississippi has a very progressive and flexible statutory framework to manage and develop water supplies.
As time goes on, water and energy supply security will become increasingly more important as companies consider new locations. If sensible steps are taken to plan and develop more water supply resources in Mississippi, it is plausible that Mississippi’s water resources may one day become a defining economic asset, resulting in the migration of people and businesses into the state.