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Evidentiary hearing in Water Rights Case (Mississippi v. Tennessee) set for May 20 in Nashville
May 17, 2019
The hearing is expected to last one or two weeks

In 2014, the State of Mississippi filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court against the City of Memphis, Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division, and the State of Tennessee over the rights of the respective states to groundwater in the Memphis Sand Aquifer (sometimes called the Sparta Sand Aquifer in Mississippi). Mississippi’s complaint alleges that Memphis, MLGW, and Tennessee are wrongfully taking “Mississippi’s groundwater” from the Memphis Sand Aquifer.

For over a century, the Supreme Court has decided disputes between states over rights to use interstate water resources by applying the doctrine of equitable apportionment to determine how much of the shared resource each state can use. Mississippi has expressly rejected the doctrine of equitable apportionment, arguing that the Aquifer is not an interstate resource.

The Supreme Court appointed a Special Master, Judge Eugene Siler, Jr., to preside over the fact-finding portion of the case. The Special Master ordered an evidentiary hearing to address the threshold question of whether the Aquifer, including the groundwater in it, is an interstate resource. That hearing is set for May 20, 2019, and will be held in Nashville. The hearing is expected to last one or two weeks.

The City of Memphis and MLGW remain confident in their position that the Aquifer is an interstate resource. The evidence and legal arguments strongly support the interstate nature of the Aquifer. The City and MLGW will urge the Special Master to agree with their position and recommend that Mississippi’s lawsuit be dismissed.
 

MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 431,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County.

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