U.S. Water News Online
HERNANDO, Miss. -- A Mississippi utilities
regulator says the Public Service Commission should get
involved in the state's lawsuit against the city of Memphis
over the use of groundwater to represent consumers. The case
is set for trial Feb. 4 in federal court in Oxford before
U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson.
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
The lawsuit was filed in 2005 in federal court.
Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said he'll
push for the PSC to get involved in the lawsuit. Presley
told the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors that the
regulatory agency needs to represent water customers.
"I think the PSC has to have a role in that case,"
Presley said. "It's on the minds of everybody in DeSoto
County to make sure we've got that water supply here."
Presley, the former mayor of Nettleton mayor, is one of
two new members on the PSC. Presley succeeded Bo Robinson,
who chose not to seek re-election to the three-member board.
The PSC administers a no-call registry and regulates
telecommunications, water, sewer, electric and gas
Presley said the previous PSC didn't act on the water
rights lawsuit in time to be a party to it. Whatever the
outcome, he anticipates the case will be appealed, and the
PSC will get an opportunity to file a friend of the court
Presley said if city utilities and water districts that
serve DeSoto were forced to seek other sources of water, "it
would put an undue burden on our ratepayers."
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
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
Mississippi officials say that has now happened because
the Memphis usage has created a depression in the water
table that is pulling the water 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
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