Ground Water Management in the Memphis, Tennessee Urban Area

by Roger H. Smith, Memphis State Univ, Memphis, United States,
John W. Smith, Memphis State Univ, Memphis, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Resources Planning and Management and Urban Water Resources

Abstract: In 1887, the first known water well was placed in the aquifer which presently supplies almost 100% of the water used by the Memphis Urban Area (MUA). Since that time, the MUA has developed total reliance on the abundant supply and excellent quality ground water found at relatively shallow depths. It has played a significant role in the economic development of the MUA which includes 7 incorporated cities and almost one million people. The MUA water source has long been considered protected from local recharge within the urban area. Recent studies, however, have partially altered this perception. The management quantitatively and qualitatively of this water resource is both technical and political in nature. The seven separate incorporated areas have their own independent water supply systems. Compounding the problem are over 500 private wells at residential and commercial locations. Several activities have been undertaken by the local governments and the major water utility in the area to identify the potential problems, create a dialog to foster cooperation, and develop an action plan for management of this urban resource. Research by the water utility serving the City of Memphis and the unincorporated portions of Shelby County has increased dramatically in the past decade. The municipalities in the MUA recognized that the problem of ground water protection crossed political boundaries and jurisdictions when a regional ground water quality control board (GWQCB) was formed in 1988. This board has representation from all the municipalities, the unincorporated urban area, the engineering profession, the well drilling profession, and the local health department. The board has has an immediate impact on well construction in the county and is in the process of preparing a five year strategic plan for ground water management in the urban area.

Subject Headings: Municipal water | Groundwater management | Water resources | Groundwater quality | Urban development | Water supply systems | Urban areas | North America | Tennessee | United States | Memphis

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