Mar 20, 2018

Memphis Groundwater Plans to Revise Well Ordinances

The Groundwater Quality Control Board held a public hearing to collect comments on proposed revisions

Groundwater regulations under revision

The Memphis Groundwater Quality Control Board held a public hearing to collect comments on proposed revisions to Shelby County’s well construction ordinance. Residents argued that private well operators who tap into local aquifers also should pay for the water they pump. Currently, industries and other entities which tap the aquifer water pay for the well permits, but not for the water extracted. Residents then proposed using these funds for studies of aquifers or to cleanup polluted groundwater sites. Additionally, residents proposed a ban on commercial water-bottling plants in the Memphis Sand aquifer and an increase in the minimum distance required between wells and between contaminated sites.

The call for revisions comes in the wake of two recent changes for Memphis utility users. Residents who use the water services of Memphis LIght, Gas and Water Division began last month paying a 1.05% water-rate increase to fund a study of the Memphis Sand Aquifer. The other factor which has raised the need for increased well construction ordinances is a Tennessee Valley Authority plan to pump 3.5 million gal of water a day from the community aquifer to cool a power-generating plant. The plan is now on hold as the rules are under revision, according to The Commercial Appeal.

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