Memphis Drinking Water Safe; TVA Says It Will Take 9 Years To Clean Up Coal Ash

Local News

If there is one thing Memphis folks are proud of, it’s the water. Some of the best in the country.

The champagne of municipal waters. Well, maybe not that good, but it’s good.

So, Shelby County Commissioner Mick Wright told officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority, don’t mess with it.

“I’m sure you understand our concern,” Commissioner Wright said, “… that our precious drinking water, which is probably the best in the country, if not the world. We have really great water.”

There is a reason they are concerned.
Coal ash ponds at the old Allen Steam Plant are filled with arsenic, and that arsenic seeped into the ground water.


Memphis Aquifer drinking water is underground, way underground, but everybody wants to make sure that nothing happens to it.

So, folks with the Tennessee Valley Authority, in charge of the coal ash cleanup, were asked flat out, should people be worried about the drinking water.

The answer was, “I think it’s highly unlikely that any impact will be caused to the Memphis aquifer.”

The TVA will start trying to drain groundwater out, next year. This is going to be a long process.

Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter says she’s not worried.

“Not at the present time,” she said, adding that tests have been done on the water from the TVA, MLGW, and her department.

It will take at least nine years for the TVA to totally clear the site of any problems. There are several members of the Shelby County Commission who don’t like that, arguing the cleanup needs to be done in a shorter span of time.

TVA spokesman Scott Brooks says, “We have about three-and-a-half million cubic yards of coal ash stored out there, and so we have to be careful coming into the process. We have to consider all options on how to get the coal ash out of there; truck, rail, barge.”

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