Study finds contamination in Memphis Sands Aquifer

Study finds contamination in Memphis Sands Aquifer
Updated: Nov. 13, 2017 at 5:49 PM CST
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(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A new report found one of Memphis' most precious resources, water, was contaminated.

The report found contamination in the Memphis Sands Aquifer and local agencies are taking the threat seriously.

"We have the best water in the world, and we have a lot of it, and we're in danger of contaminating it," Wade Archer of the group Protect our Aquifer said.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials found elevated levels of the toxic chemical perchloroethylene, or PERC, 150 feet below ground in the Memphis Sands Aquifer at the former Custom Cleaners location on Southern Avenue.

An EPA statement said in part:

The groundwater contamination threatens the Memphis Sands Aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for Memphis and surrounding communities.

At least one woman has come forward saying toxins from the dry-cleaner made her sick.

Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) President Jerry Collins said MLGW tests its water thousands of times to ensure it is not contaminated with any volatile organics like PERC.

Collins also said his company pulls water from 400-1200 feet deep--well below where PERC was found.

"We don't expect to find any volatile organics in our drinking water, but if we ever find volatile organics in our drinking water from whatever well it's coming from, we'll shut it down," Collins said.

The EPA plans on returning to Memphis early next year to host community meetings where it will discuss its cleanup plan and the data it has collected.

"It's time that we stood up and re-respected our aquifer," Archer said. "It's good for Memphis. It's good for business. It's a win-win."

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