Carrier wants to reinject wastewater back into the Memphis Sand Aquifer

Local News

SHELBY CO., Tenn. ( – A Collierville company wants to reinject treated wastewater back into the Memphis Sand Aquifer. That’s where everyone gets their drinking water, and the proposal isn’t sitting well with groups worried the aquifer is already threatened.

After hours of back and forth, folks crowded in a Bartlett City Hall room were still left with a stream of questions.

“We need to know what Carrier’s plans are,” said Timothy Herndon, Shelby County Groundwater Quality Control Chair.

The Carrier facility in Collierville has had problems with trychloroethylene or TCE spilling into the county’s drinking water system. While controlling that problem, another emerged. The nearby Smalley Piper Site was contaminated with chromium.

“They seem to be saying that Carrier is seeing some of the contamination from the Smalley Piper Site,” said Herndon.

Carrier wants to completely separate from the Smalley Piper Site and pump waste water 24/7. To do that, it wants to allow two wells to reinject treated groundwater into the aquifer.

“It seemed to be primarily about saving money, so not having to pay as much in operation and maintenance costs to send the water to the wastewater treatment plant,” said Amanda Garicia, Southern Environmental Law Center in TN Managing Attorney.

Carrier says the reinjected water will not be dangerous and fully treated. Some don’t believe that.

“I think there’s some concern that the chromium will not be addressed,” said Garcia.

Carrier had three other options: pouring the water into the municipal water supply, sewage treatment plant, or Nonconnah Creek. These are all options the County’s Groundwater Quality Control Board wants explored more; therefore, Carrier’s request is tabled for now. 

“They needed more information on what the applicant plans to do. Some of the answers they gave us were rather tentative and indefinite,” said Herndon.

The Board said reinjection wells are not uncommon, but they are usually only used for a short period of time not permanently as Carrier wants to do. Carrier will try to make its case again before spring.

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