For the first time, a TVA report acknowledges the aquifer that provides Memphis its water is exposed to possible contamination.
The layer of clay that is supposed to shield the Memphis Sands aquifer where our water comes from is missing.
It’s near coal ash containment ponds on President’s Island. The concern is that arsenic and other contaminants will leak into our drinking water. This breach is a couple miles from where MLGW pumps our drinking water.
Scientists, the TVA, and even environmentalists seem to agree that for now our drinking water is safe, but it’s what happens in the future that seems to be the concern.
“We don’t want to make people frightened at all to drink their water. What we want to do is make sure people get involved and make sure elected officials are making the decisions they need to make to protect that water into the future,” said Scott Banbury, environmentalist with “Protect Our Aquifer.”
That’s why Banbury is concerned about what is happening under the ground at the TVA plant.
“The coal ash pond is essentially sitting on top of our drinking water with no clay in between,” said Banbury.
Last week the TVA admitted in a report what scientists from the University of Memphis suspected after they did research in 2017.
“We suspected that the breach was there, now it’s been confirmed, so we can pinpoint that location and you can further investigate the properties of the breach and identify potential issues with contaminates that may or may not flow into the breach into the Memphis sand,” said Dr. Scott Schoefernacker, University of Memphis Center for Applied Earth Sciences and Engineering Research.
The TVA says the breach has been in place for about a year. They say drinking water is not at immediate risk, and there is a plan to clean up the mess.
“It’s essentially a fault line that creates a gap but one of the other things we’ve been able to determine is that the arsenic is not moving downward its suspended in the upper aquifer so we know exactly where the arsenic is and that’s why we’re able to put together a plan,” said Scott Brooks, TVA spokesperson.
According to the TVA spokesperson, cleaning up of contaminated water will begin later this year.
The TVA is also working on plans to clean up contamination of the coal ash ponds.
University of Memphis researchers are also conducting a 5-year study on the aquifer to look for other potential breaches.