TN Valley Authority approved to drill into water system

TN Valley Authority approved to drill into water system
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Tennessee Valley Authority will be allowed to build two new water wells in Memphis, now that the Shelby County Groundwater Control Board denied an appeal designed to stop the TVA.

Memphis advocates said the future of Memphis drinking water was on the line on Wednesday. Members of the organization "Protect the Aquifer," dressed in blue matching shirts and fought alongside the Sierra Club to try and stop the construction of two wells by TVA.

"Today, a small group of people are going to represent an entire Shelby County in protecting our Aquifer or saving our water whether or not it is something that will be used for future generations or not," Protect the Aquifer spokesperson Randy Blevins said.

The organization's efforts fell short when the Shelby County Groundwater Control Board.

Those wells, approved by the Health Department earlier this year, will drain 3.5 million gallons of water a day out of the Memphis Sand Aquifer.

"Safety is of the utmost importance to the TVA, and the new wells will be very safe," a TVA spokesperson said.

The TVA said it will use the water to cool its plant on President's Island. The plant will provide energy to 650,000 homes. The TVA had originally planned to use wastewater, also known as greywater, but decided against it.

"We thought that greywater would be the acceptable option," TVA spokesperson Chris Stanley said. "Upon further study and further review, we found other compounds that aren't going to work and would not work in the cooling process."

Protect the Aquifer argued the TVA should use greywater instead, because if the Aquifer's supply is used, there could be leakage. That could lead to contamination.

"I think we need to learn from Flint, Michigan," Blevins said. "Look what happened there. People wonder how something like that happened. This is how it happens."

"We have studies by the USGS that say there won't be any issues," Stanley said. "We believe it will be fine."

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