The Aquifer

The Memphis Sand Aquifer is an unparalleled natural resource spanning more than 7,000 square miles across portions of eight states. Multiple alternating layers of primarily sand, and clay, with a bit of silt and gravel mixed here and there make up this massive underground water source.

Reaching depths of up to 3,000 feet beneath Shelby County, the Aquifer feeds both municipal systems and private wells, which end up supplying residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural water needs across the Mid-South area.

The Water

The Memphis Sand Aquifer provides some of the best water in the country — and we have to protect it. Thanks to the natural filtration flowing through the sand, the water we get from the Aquifer is of extremely high quality right from ground to your tap.

We don’t just rely on the Aquifer for clean drinking water, but also manufacturing, power production, agriculture, and development. They all rely heavily on this limited resource.

Did you
Memphis is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world that relies 100% on groundwater. – USGS (2018)

The Recharge Zone

The Aquifer is primarily recharged by precipitation — rainwater and runoff percolate through the soil and gradually seep into the aquifer. The area that feeds the Aquifer is called the Recharge Zone, and it’s a critical part of the overall health of the Aquifer. Urbanization, manufacturing facilities, and waste management sites in the Recharge Zone can all negatively affect the Aquifer if left unchecked.

Did you
Our groundwater source – the Memphis Sand Aquifer – contains water that fell as rainfall over 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.

The Issues

For years the Memphis Sand Aquifer has been overused and underappreciated, contributing to ever-increasing levels of pollution and contamination. As growing water demand places pressure on the aquifer, it’s critical to monitor and manage its usage carefully to ensure long-term sustainability.

Did you
There are approximately 200 known contaminated sites across Shelby County – 10 of them federally-recognized Superfund Sites in active remediation.

Our Efforts

The Memphis Sand Aquifer is not infinite, and neither is the time we have to ensure it’s preserved for future generations. At every step, Protect Our Aquifer fights for Memphis water. Join us in advocating for its long-term viability as a vital resource for the Memphis region.