Water Rights Case Receives Unanimous Ruling

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Gradient contributed scientific analyses in the first interstate water dispute focused solely on groundwater tried before the Supreme Court.

Topics: 

Water Rights, Water Resources,
Hydrogeology, Groundwater Modeling, Aquifer

NEWS ALERT

MS v. TN Supreme Court Water Rights Case Receives Unanimous Ruling

Gradient contributed scientific analyses in the first interstate water dispute focused solely on groundwater tried before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court recently ruled on a decade-plus-long water rights dispute between Mississippi and Tennessee. In a unanimous decision, the Court rejected Mississippi’s claims that it owns groundwater beneath its state borders and that pumping by Tennessee resulted in the wrongful taking of Mississippi’s groundwater. In the first Supreme Court ruling focused solely on groundwater, the Court declared that the doctrine of equitable apportionment applies to groundwater flowing in interstate aquifers. The aquifer at issue was the Middle Claiborne, which is a major source of water for Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

To address Mississippi’s claims in the case, Gradient evaluated the vast literature on the Mississippi Embayment aquifer system and characterized regional aquifer behavior using a numerical groundwater model developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) that encompassed the 78,000-square-mile aquifer system. We used the model to evaluate pre-development groundwater flow patterns and groundwater-surface water interconnectedness.

Specific Gradient analyses in this matter included:

  • Evaluating the aquifer extent, characteristics, and historical definition;
  • Modeling pre-development groundwater flow patterns, groundwater-surface water interactions, and sources of recharge;
  • Assessing anthropogenic impacts to the aquifer using measured data and mathematical models; and
  • Delivering expert testimony in a hearing before the Special Master to the Supreme Court for this case.

Gradient has provided scientific support for two recent original-jurisdiction water rights actions tried before the Supreme Court. These cases have required multidisciplinary hydrologic expertise.

If you have any questions about Gradient’s capabilities, please visit our website or contact:

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