UPDATE: Carrier said on Monday, March 9 that the company has withdrawn its request for a waiver to allow injection of groundwater, contingent on their ability to refile and request a waiver at a later date.
COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — The Carrier Corporation is asking for permission to dump wastewater into the aquifer that supplies the area’s drinking water.
In an application to the Shelby County Health Department, Carrier Corporation asked for permission to install an injection well at their Collierville property.
The well would take company wastewater and dump it into Memphis’ sand aquifer far beneath the Earth’s surface. Currently, the company sends the water to a Collierville treatment plant.
It likely would save the company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
“Partially treated wastewater causes potential risks especially in a place like Shelby County that has a lot of legacy contamination in the groundwater,” said Amanda Garcia, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Thankfully [the aquifer] has been protected to some degree but were finding more recent years it’s not as protected as we thought it was. There are parts of the aquifer vulnerable to contamination.”
The Shelby County Health Department rejected the application in October, but the company appealed that to the Shelby County Groundwater Control Board Tuesday.
Garcia said the board members asked a lot of questions about alternatives to an injection well as well as the water quality that would be injected back in to the aquifer.
The Shelby County Groundwater Control Board held off on making a decision about whether to allow Carrier to build an injection well Tuesday, and asked Carrier to return by March 31, 2020 with more information.
Activists said they were encouraged by the board’s questioning at the hearing.
“There’s no one in charge of the aquifer, and we’re trying to change that, but right now it’s falling to us as sort of the watchdog,” said Ward Archer with Protect our Aquifer.