Though currently approved projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority's plan for operating five wells to draw water from the Memphis Sand Aquifer won't be affected, a piece of legislation filed by two Shelby County legislators could substantially affect future water policy locally.
As Ward Archer, founder of Protect Our Aquifer, explains in a memo to the Flyer:The petition from Sierra Club and Protect Our Aquifer can be accessed here:
"On February 1, 2017, Protect Our Aquifer, along with the Sierra Club, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in Shelby County Chancery Court seeking judicial review of the Shelby County Groundwater Quality Control Board's decision upholding the issuance of well permits to TVA to draw potable water directly from our Memphis Sand Aquifer.
"The case was assigned to Chancellor Jim Kyle. On February 9, 2017, Chancellor Kyle signed an order instructing the clerk of the court to issue the writ requiring the board to submit the record from the administrative proceeding to the court within thirty days.
"This is the first step in the appeal process."
(NASHVILLE), February 14, 2017 — State Senators Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Lee Harris (D-Memphis) have filed legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly setting up a Memphis Sands Aquifer Regional Development Board to protect water supplies in West Tennessee. Senate Bill 776 also requires board approval to pump more than 10,000 gallons of water from the aquifer to ensure its long-term viability.The bill itself (SB0776/HB0816) may be seen here:
It is sponsored by Rep. Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett) and Rep. Curtis Halford (R-Dyer) in the House of Representatives.
“Clean drinking water is very important to our citizens and our future,” said Sen. Kelsey. “This legislation aims to ensure the aquifer remains a clean and reliable source for future generations.”
The action follows approval given to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to pump approximately 3.5 million gallons of aquifer water each day to cool its new power-generating plant in Southwest Memphis, a move which is deemed controversial by some scientists and environmentalists.
Under the bill, the board would have all of the powers, rights, and privileges necessary to manage, conserve, preserve, and protect the aquifer, and to increase the recharge of, and prevent the waste or pollution in, the aquifer. The nine-member board would be fairly comprised of the mayors of Shelby and two other West Tennessee counties overlying the aquifer. The governor would appoint the remaining members with two from the agricultural community, two from commerce, and two from the environmental/research community.
“This board would also help ensure that the flow of rain and water into the aquifer prevents pollution and waste,” Kelsey added. “I believe this legislation provides a well-balanced approach to ensure the aquifer is protected for many years to come.”
In addition, Senate Bill 886, sponsored by Harris and Kelsey, requires anyone planning to drill a well to give at least 14 days advance notice to the state commissioner of the Department of Environment and Conservation with the notice published on department’s website. Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis), Rep. Lollar and Rep. Halford are sponsoring the bill in the House of Representatives.
Senator Harris said, “Everyone should know that our aquifer makes West Tennessee a very special place, as compared with other areas of the country. We need to work to preserve that asset. We know that there’s enough drinking water for today’s generation, but that’s not the worry. We want to make sure that the aquifer is preserved for future generations. That means we need to be careful with respect to the precedents we set today, since those precedents have a funny way to leading to negative consequences later. Because this aquifer is so special, we also want to do what we can to make sure that the public knows what’s happening with it and how it’s being utilized. When there are proposals to use that resource, we need to have a serious conversation with the public, and sometimes we need to be able to modify or even reject some of these uses.”
The water stored in the Memphis sand aquifer, which is also known as the Middle Claiborne, first fell as rain 332 BC. It covers 7,500 miles in portions of seven states, including 20 West Tennessee counties. Although aquifers are used for drinking water by more than 100 million Americans, Kelsey said the quality of the Memphis aquifer is unsurpassed.
“Earlier today I submitted a letter of resignation to The Speaker of the House, Honorable Beth Harwell, to resign my seat serving the 95th House District in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
"This was a tremendously difficult decision. I can only hope everyone who placed their trust in me to represent them in the State Legislature including all my constituents, neighbors, family and friends can accept my sincerest apology for having to resign at this time.
"Over the past few months, it has become evident to me that I was not fulfilling the promise I made to myself and my family to continue to be available to my family needs both physically and mentally. While I am extremely disappointed that at this time I do not feel I have the capacity to serve my constituents and represent them to the best of my abilities while also giving my family the attention they deserve, I must choose to focus on my family and myself at this time.
"Again, I am extremely grateful for all of the trust the great people in my district have placed in me and I apologize greatly for not being able to fulfill my campaign promises to them.
"Regarding any sexual harassment allegations, I stand by my statement that no improprieties happened and the allegations are completely false.
"So that I may begin focusing on my family, any further inquiries need to be directed to Valerie Morris, my communications representative.” – Mark Lovell
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today was appointed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and approved by the House Democratic Caucus to serve on the House Committee on Ethics. In 2008, then-Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi referred to Congressman Cohen as the “conscience of the freshman class.”
“The Ethics Committee is critical to maintaining the dignity of the People’s House,” Leader Pelosi said. “With his leadership, integrity, and courage, Congressman Steve Cohen will be a strong addition to the Ethics Committee. As a Member of the Judiciary Committee with many years of dedicated service representing Tennessee, Congressman Cohen knows the high standards hard-working Americans have for their elected officials. Congressman Cohen will be a strong advocate for ensuring every Member of Congress honors this sacred trust.”
“I am proud to be appointed by Leader Pelosi to serve on the House Ethics Committee,” said Congressman Cohen. “One of the most important reasons I came to Congress in 2007 was to fight against the culture of corruption in Washington. I strongly advocated for and voted for the strongest ethics and lobbying reforms since the Watergate era and for the creation of the nonpartisan, independent Office of Congressional Ethics that Republicans sought to dismantle earlier this year. Throughout my legislative career, I have been aware that elected officials must be, like Caesar’s wife, ‘above suspicion’ as the public trust is most sacred. During my time in the Tennessee State Senate, I was the only Senator to twice receive the Common Cause Bird Dog Award for ‘dedication to honesty and integrity in government.’ I welcome the opportunity to serve on the Ethics Committee during a time when the trust and integrity of our government is being tested.”
"This vetting proposal itself needed more vetting. More scrutiny of those traveling from war-torn countries to the United States is wise. But this broad and confusing order seems to ban legal, permanent residents with ‘green cards,’ and might turn away Iraqis, for example, who were translators and helped save lives of Americans troops and who could be killed if they stay in Iraq. And while not explicitly a religious test, it comes close to one which is inconsistent with our American character.”
"Since the election results rolled in announcing Donald Trump as our new president, I've heard many people say they are scared of what the future holds for minority groups in the United States. Today at the Women's March in downtown Memphis, over 3,000 people gathered to show that we the people are greater than fear.
"We gathered as one at the D'Army Bailey Courthouse in a sea of signs showcasing the wide variety of causes that brought all of us — people of all kinds — to march together today. Images of uteri on posterboard demanded reproductive rights for women, and Princess Leia signs affirmed that a woman's place is in the resistance.
"Photos of black lives lost to violence, signs written in Spanish encouraging equality through education, and a poster of a woman wearing an American Flag hijab reminded us that we must all work together to provide for the safety, well-being, and equality of all people everywhere.
"Our numbers and voices grew as we marched through downtown. Tourists who came to Memphis expecting Elvis souvenirs and Beale Street beers instead found camaraderie and community as together we proclaimed, 'Black lives matter!'
"Downtown residents looked out from their windows and encouraged us while employees of local businesses along our route joined our chants of 'No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here!' Together we cheered for equal rights for all, for acceptance, for love over hate, and -- because this is Memphis -- we cheered for the smell of BBQ as we passed the Rendezvous.
"We finished today's walk at the National Civil Rights Museum, but our march does not end there. We must continue to show up and march for what we believe in every day. We must participate in local elections and tell our elected representatives what we the people deserve and demand. Together we are strong and we are greater than fear. Together we can make change.
"Remember what we chanted together today: 'This is what democracy looks like.'"
"Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) was appointed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. The Steering and Policy Committee sets the Democratic policy agenda and nominates Democratic Members for committee assignments. In 2008, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to Congressman Cohen as the “conscience of the freshman class.”
Congressman Cohen is the first Congressman from the Ninth District of Tennessee to serve on the committee since Harold Ford, Sr. served from 1988-1990 and the first Tennessean to serve on the committee since John Tanner served from 1996-2004."