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MLGW News Release
5th Circuit Court of Appeals rules in MLGW's favor regarding water rights
June 5, 2009
(June 5, 2009) - The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld MLGW's victory in a federal lawsuit filed by the State of Mississippi regarding the use of underground aquifer - the source of Memphis' drinking water. A federal trial court had previously dismissed Mississippi's suit in February, 2008.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood brought the lawsuit against MLGW and the City of Memphis in 2005. The suit alleged that MLGW and the City of Memphis should pay damages to Mississippi for ground water that was pumped within the borders of Tennessee. MLGW attorneys argued that the aquifer is an interstate resource that is shared between all the states it flows beneath.

The Court of Appeals rejected Mississippi's argument that the State of Tennessee had no interest in the interstate waters of the Memphis Sand Aquifer. In a ruling issued Friday morning, the court wrote, "The specter of a determination of Tennessee's water rights without its participation in the suit is itself sufficiently prejudicial to render the state an indispensable party."

"From the beginning we knew this lawsuit did not have merit. The trial court, and now the Court of Appeals, have both upheld our position," said Charlotte Knight-Griffin, MLGW Manager of Legal Services. "MLGW knows just how valuable this precious natural resource is to not only our citizens, but to all who benefit from it. We are pleased the court has ruled in our favor."

MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 420,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County.