The utility that few people know about

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It may very well be one of the largest government agencies on the coast many have never heard of. The West Jackson County Utility District has an annual budget of $7 million and serves thousands of people.

John Hannah is the general manager.

"If you don't know about us, and you're a customer, we want you to know about us and we want it to be a good thing that you know about us," Hannah said.

A five member commission meets twice a month, setting the tone for the district.  Lloyd Hebert is a commissioner.

"We're here to make sure that we have long term vision for planning out subdivisions, new areas of expansion, making sure that the greater picture is handled," Hebert explained.

One job being handled is the installation of about 3,000 new water meters between now and October. Hannah explained what will that mean for the district.

"We will be able to develop a full inventory of our water usage throughout the distinct and be able to better asset, manage and plan for the future."

The utility district encompasses a very wide area, basically all of St. Martin from Latimer to the north to Old Fort Bayou to the east.

One of the more ambitious projects underway right now in the Gulf Hills subdivision, according to Hannah.

"We have roughly a $7 million dollar project underway in Gulf Hills. We have some plans for doing some sewer rehabilitation and we would expect that the debt service on that sewer rehab will be very well offset with the additional savings."

The biggest challenge though isn't found underground, it's letting people know the district actually exists.

"We're active in the trade organizations and we do attend some of the local chamber events and our interest is in providing the very best service that we can for the least amount of money to the customer," Hannah said.

The utility district serves about 6,500 residential customers, and about 250 commercial businesses. Twenty-nine people are employed by the district.

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