Water Dispute Goes to Trial In Federal Court

Memphis – Shelby County residents have long relished the pure, sparkling water that is drawn from deep below the earth's surface. Today, the water dispute between Mississippi and Memphis, Light, Gas and Water and City of Memphis goes to trial in Oxford, Mississippi.

Mississippi claims that MLGW and the City of Memphis are taking more then its fair share of water from the underground aquifer that has fed Memphians since 1880. It spans from Southwest Kentucky and Eastern Arkansas to Northern Mississippi.

Development is at the heart of the dispute. Shelby County continues to grow eastward while DeSoto County expands just south of Memphis and the Tennessee state line. In fact, DeSoto County is one of the fastest growing communities in America.

Mississippi is seeking an injunction to stop Memphis from pulling water from DeSoto County.

Mississippi and DeSoto County originally filed suit against MLGW and the city of Memphis in 2005. They claim that Memphis is knowingly taking more than its fair share of water from the DeSoto County part of the aquifer, thus causing several cone-like depressions that cause the water to flow backwards into Memphis.

Many believe that the aquifer that spans the Mid-South has an endless supply. That's not exactly the case. The aquifer must re-charge, somewhat like a solar battery. When too much water is pumped at a time, the aquifer cannot recharge efficiently. Then the water table drops, causing the flow to change. When that happens, the potential for property damage and water contamination increases significantly. Thus, causing harm to the citizens of DeSoto County.

That's the basic argument before the Federal District Court today in Oxford, Mississippi.