Mid-South News
5:53 pm
Tue June 9, 2009

Water Fight Headed To Supreme Court

Memphis, TN – Mississippi's lawsuit against the city of Memphis and Memphis Gas Light and Water hit a snag Friday. Candice Ludlow reports.

If the state of Mississippi wants to continue its lawsuit against the city of Memphis and MLGW, it will have to be brought to the United States Supreme Court.

On Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the lower court's decision that the state of Tennessee is an indispensable party to the water suit between the state of Mississippi and city of Memphis and its public utility company, MLGW. This means that Tennessee must be named as a defendant in the suit, making it an issue between states -giving jurisdiction to the Supreme Court.

In 2005, Mississippi filed suit against the utility company, saying that Memphis was stealing water that belongs to Mississippi. Mississippi claims that MLGW is over-pumping its wells located along the state border. They say the over-pumping has caused a "cone of depression," causing the groundwater to flow backwards under Memphis instead of northern Mississippi.

Chris Stanley is a spokesman for MLGW. He says they're pleased with the ruling.

"Let me tell you this first of all. This is a technical decision. It was a decision that the Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court ruling that the appropriate parties weren't in this case, so we are very pleased that the Court has accepted our position in this case. Water is a very precious natural resource here and across all states that share this aquifer. And we want to protect it for all those who benefit from it."

The Sparta Aquifer is a part of the Mississippi Embayment, which stretches from southern Missouri and Kentucky to Louisiana, and includes parts of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said they will continue with the case, so the water fight isn't over.