Groups to File Lawsuit Against TVA Wells

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Two groups will file a legal challenge Tuesday afternoon to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) plan to drill wells into the source of Memphis’ drinking water.

TVA has permits in hand to drill five wells into the Memphis Sand aquifer. The utility wants to use the wells to take 3.5 million gallons per day of the famously pure water to cool its new energy plant. TVA’s original plan was to use waste water to cool the plant but decided tapping the city’s drinking water was cheaper.

TVA was given three well permits by the Shelby County Health Department late last year. The utility recently won the right to drill the other two wells after a failed appeal to stop them by the local chapter of the Sierra Club to the Shelby County Groundwater Quality Control Board in November.

A legal challenge to that decision was discussed by Sierra Club members in November. That challenge, it appears, has come.

The Sierra Club and a local advocacy group called Protect Our Aquifer will file a formal, legal appeal of the groundwater board’s decision Tuesday in Shelby County Chancery Court.

“We believe the hearing on the appeal of TVA's application for well permits was procedurally flawed and prevented the appellants from presenting important expert evidence showing the threat to the Memphis Sand aquifer that TVA's plan presents,” said Webb Brewer, the attorney representing the Sierra Club and Protect Our Aquifer.

A legal defense fund has been established to support the effort. Donations can be made at ProtectOurAquifer.org.

A news release issued Tuesday morning highlighted the fact that Protect Our Aquifer had joined the Sierra Club in the lawsuit.

“The public, political and media interest in this issue is strong and growing stronger every day,” said Sierra Club representative Scott Banbury. “Everyone wants to keep our water clean and I’m pleased to have Protect Our Aquifer on board.”

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