Court unanimously supports Tennessee in groundwater dispute with Mississippi

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Middle Claiborne aquifer, as described in the 2020 report of the special supervisor appointed by the court.

Confirmed expectations, the Supreme Court Monday Unanimously deny Mississippi claims that Tennessee is stealing groundwater. If Mississippi wants to continue its battle for groundwater with Tennessee, it will have to file a new complaint with the court, demanding a fair distribution of the Clayburn aquifer located below Mississippi, Tennessee and other states.

Ignoring the consensus of others that fair distribution is the only reason for its actions, Mississippi Arguing in the Supreme Court Tennessee invaded the sovereign territory of Mississippi, allowing the Memphis Department of Light, Gas, and Water to extract large amounts of water from the aquifer, forming a concave cone that extends to the state line and causing groundwater that would naturally remain below Mississippi. Flow into Tennessee. For this state-level version of illegal intrusion, Mississippi requested more than $600 million in compensation.

period Oral argumentSome judges expressed discomfort with the potential breadth of the principle of fair distribution. If they applied it to groundwater, they envisioned the proliferation of interstate primary jurisdiction litigation concerning aquifers. Nonetheless, they determined that their long-term remedy for natural resource disputes between states was the only option for Mississippi. The fair distribution law aims to balance the sovereign water interests of the states by delineating how the two countries will share interstate waterways.

“[W]e believes that the waters of the Middle Claiborne aquifer receive fair distribution of judicial relief,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the unanimous opinion Mississippi v Tennessee.

However, whether Mississippi is really entitled to a fair distribution is very debatable.As the court last year Florida v. Georgia, The complaining country has a heavy burden to prove that another country’s water is causing significant damage to the complaining country. The facts of development so far indicate that Mississippi will not be able to bear this burden.

Check back soon for an in-depth analysis of opinions.

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