VOL. 132 | NO. 18 | Wednesday, January 25, 2017
TVA Chair OK With Memphis Aquifer Decision
By Bill Dries
The chairwoman of the Tennessee Valley Authority board says a plan to tap the Memphis aquifer for water to cool the inner workings of the natural gas plant being built in southwest Memphis will not harm the aquifer.
V. Lynn Evans of Memphis commented in an interview with The Daily News following her election last week as chairwoman of the TVA board.
“I’ve been here since 1977 and I think the aquifer is one of the most precious assets,” she said. “I have an even greater appreciation for the aquifer when I served on the MLGW board. So I know that we pride ourselves on our wonderful tasting water and its safety.”
The original plans for the Allen Combined Cycle Plant called for so-called gray water to be used in the cooling process for the natural gas-fired plant. But TVA later changed the plans to dig its own wells to generate an estimated 3.5 million gallons of water a day.
The Sierra Club is leading opposition saying it could deplete the city’s water supply and that the wells could contaminate the aquifer. The organization took that opposition to the Shelby County Groundwater Quality Board in November. The board denied the appeal, which gives TVA approval for two of the five wells sought at the plant site.
“The decision that was made by TVA was in line with our mission to provide low-cost energy,” Evans said. “And we are still being good environmental stewards in the sense that based on our internal and external advisers, we have made a decision that will be in line with our mission.”
Evans, a Memphis certified public accountant who served on the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division board before being appointed to the TVA board in 2013, was unanimously elected by the TVA board as its chairman on Jan. 19 after serving briefly as interim chairwoman.
She is the first African-American, the first woman and the first Memphian to chair the TVA board.
She said the use of groundwater pumped from the aquifer could change if technology at the new plant changes.
“People are still evaluating the technology and technology changes. In years to come if a different decision needs to be made I’m sure that would take place,” she said. “Based upon the information provided to us I have no problem. I’m one of the people who drinks the water straight from the tap. I absolutely think the water is safe.”
MLGW officials have said their preference would be for TVA to buy the water from the utility without digging its own wells.
Evans, a two-time chairwoman of the MLGW board, said she understands the argument from MLGW.
“MLGW is TVA’s largest customer and I’ve worn both hats. I could have argued this on any given day from either point of view,” she said. “But from the standpoint of TVA commissioners and looking at the cost of purchasing it through MLGW versus purchasing it directly, and by doing so following the existing guidelines and laws and permitting that is in place, the decision was made to take the action that we’ve taken.”