The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in a case that could influence groundwater management for decades to come. In an interview with SuperTalk Mississippi on The Gallo Radio Show, Attorney General Lynn Fitch went into more detail about Mississippi vs. Tennessee.
“The real case is about original jurisdiction between the two states. When you have a case like that, it goes straight to the Supreme Court. Our real core case is about our right as a state to our groundwater, this is an aquafer case.”
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) siphoned more than 400-billion gallons of water from Mississippi groundwater for their own use and sale. Since approximately 1985, about one-fifth of the water MLGW sold has come from Mississippi’s groundwater. The volume is so substantial that it’s caused a cone of depression in DeSoto County and put Mississippians’ own water at risk of degradation.
“It’s truly about protecting the rights of Mississippians’ to the water that’s really ours, for our use, our enjoyment as a state. And certainly, the volume is substantial,” she continued. Mississippi wants the practice to stop, and plans to ask for restitution.
“This is a different kind of opinion because other water disputes that you’ve seen between different states have involved water above the ground, like streams that have come across. So this is the first time this court had the opportunity to determine whether groundwater–which doesn’t flow the same way in an interstate resource–it’s very different. It’s more like a fence makes a great neighbor.”
According to The National Law Review, if the Supreme Court rules against Mississippi’s claims, the task of equitably apportioning groundwater among multiple states could present a staggering challenge, particularly in aquifers as deep and extensive at the Sparta-Memphis Aquifer.
In the same interview, Fitch discussed our state’s efforts to get Roe vs. Wade overturned in a case that will be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court December first.