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Mississippi Claims Memphis is Stealing its Groundwater, Supreme Court to Decide

Mississippi Claims Memphis is Stealing its Groundwater, Supreme Court to Decide

A long standing battle between states over water rights is headed to the Supreme Court.
Water Stress Map

The battle over water rights is heating up. Please consider the State of Mississippi v. City of Memphis and Memphis Light, Gas, and Water now on the Supreme Court Docket.

Mississippi’s complaint alleges that MLGW has “forcibly siphoned” off its water to the tune of billions of gallons. Compl. ¶ 23. And that without modern pumping technology none of that water would be available to Tennessee. Id. at ¶ 24. To make matters worse, Mississippi says Tennessee has removed groundwater far beyond “the water’s natural seepage rate.” Id.

Evidence of Tennessee’s heist, Mississippi claims, can be seen in “substantial drop in pressure and corresponding drawdown of stored water in the Sparta Sand” and the “cone of depression” that extends into north Mississippi. Id. at ¶¶ 25, 30. Because Tennessee is allegedly stealing water at such a rapid rate, Mississippi must now drill wells to substantially greater depths. Id. at ¶ 54(b). Naturally, that practice has increased the costs on Mississippians who rely on the Aquifer for their groundwater.

Mississippi now seeks both declaratory relief and money damages for the taking of its groundwater. The declaratory judgment would establish Mississippi’s “sovereign right, title and exclusive interest in the groundwater stored naturally in the Sparta Sand formation” which would not be available to the Defendants without pumping. I

Analysts Favor Tennessee

This suit has been brewing for years. But analysts strongly favor Tennessee.

For example, the University of Chicago Law Review writer Joseph Regalia says Mississippi’s Plea to the Supreme Court That It “Owns” Its Water and That Tennessee Is “Stealing” It Is Just Wrong.

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