Concerns raised over Shelby County water

Last November local scientists began checking into an underground threat to our drinking water. Results from their study are trickling in, and researchers now confirm there is a problem below.

University of Memphis Ground Water Institute scientists tested ground at Shelby Farms this month. Researcher Brian Waldron said they found a large hole in the clay beneath the field near Walnut Grove and Farm Roads.

"It's about 300 feet wide by about 50 feet deep and it's underground," Waldron said.

The breach is located across the road from the old Shelby County Landfill and just yards from the site where the county is installing a sewer line. Waldron said the hole in the clay leads into our drinking water supply.

"That can allow for water of poor quality to get into our drinking water," he said.

According to Public Works Director Ted Fox, the county has taken all precautions necessary to protect the soil from sewer leakage.

"The construction of this line meets the highest standards possible. In fact, it's the best that they've put in Shelby County," Fox said. He added that the county is also closely monitoring the old landfill.

"We have a series of groundwater monitoring wells that enable us to check if there's any pollution there every six months or so," explained Fox.

MLGW Water Quality Assurance Manager Torrence Myers said the water is safe.

"If there was going to be contamination it would be at this site here," Myers said, "We have not found anything or any indication."

MLGW is keeping an eye on the scientists' research while the team maps out other areas that could be at risk. Meanwhile, Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton is asking Congress for $3.15 million in funding to continue the testing.

Log on to for more information on local water studies conducted by the University of Memphis Ground Water Institute.