U.S. Water News Online
OXFORD, Miss. -- The state of Mississippi's lawsuit against
the city of Memphis over the use of underground water has been
scheduled for Feb. 4, 2008, in federal court in Oxford.
The case was to have heard in November. U.S. District Judge Glen
H. Davidson agreed to the delay so both sides could gather more
information from the other.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is seeking more than $1
billion in damages from the City of Memphis and Memphis, Light, Gas
and Water for millions of gallons of water that the lawsuit alleges
is being pumped from an aquifer -- one that the state and DeSoto
County contend rightfully belongs to Mississippi.
The case ultimately could force Memphis to draw its water from the
Mississippi River instead of wells, attorneys have said.
The lawsuit was filed in 2005 in federal court.
"It's absolutely critical that we prevail," DeSoto County Attorney
Tony Nowak said. "Water is such an important and precious resource.
That's what the state and the county are trying to preserve.
"If you look at the current drought situation in the Southeast, it
really emphasizes that point," Nowak said.
Attorneys for the city of Memphis have said it was "unprecedented
for one state to seek damages against another governmental entity for
groundwater that is moving between states."
The lawsuit focuses on an aquifer known in Tennessee as Memphis
Sands. Mississippi officials said they became concerned after a 2002
report from the state of Tennessee noted that pumping by Memphis
could deplete Mississippi supplies.
Mississippi officials say that has now happened because the
Memphis usage has created a depression in the water table beneath
Mississippi northward into Tennessee.
Attorneys for MLGW argue their wells go straight down and are not
slanted to pull water from Mississippi.
DeSoto County filed its own lawsuit in federal court in 2005
against Memphis and Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division, based on
the same grounds as those put forth by the state.
The case has gained more interest because of recent drought in the
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