Jim Hood seeks a billion from Memphis over alleged water theft, case with U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will decide if Memphis, Tennessee has been stealing Mississippi’s groundwater since 1985 and, if guilty, the state would have to pay $1 billion in damages.

In February 2005, the state of Mississippi filed its first complaint that the city of Memphis was stealing water from the 7,000 square miles of the Memphis Sands Aquifer that lies beneath Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, according to The Commercial Appeal of Memphis. Three years later, U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson dismissed the lawsuit because Tennessee was not included in the league of defendants.

In June 2009, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the judge’s dismissal, citing Tennessee as an “indispensable party.” The district court ruled that the shared aquifer was an inter-state issue and must be heard by the Supreme Court.

Mississippi filed a suit with the Supreme Court in September 2009 against Memphis and the Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) utility–the largest three-service utility in the U.S.– seeking one billion dollars in damages.

According to court reports filed by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, Memphis is “the largest city in the world that relies solely on groundwater wells for its water supply.” More than one million Memphis residents depend on the 160 million gallons per day pumped by from the Memphis Sands Aquifer–60 million gallons of which Mississippi claims is stolen property.

Read more, and find links at Circle of Blue Water