Quality of water from freshwater aquifers and principal well fields in the Memphis area, Tennessee

U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Resources Investigations Report 87-4052

by J.V. Brahana, W.S. Parks and M.W. Gaydos

This report is available as a pdf below


Water from the freshwater aquifers in the Memphis area is suitable for most uses. Fresh- water aquifers are the alluvium and fluvial (terrace) deposits of Quaternary age, the ivlem- phis Sand and Fort Pillow Sand of Tertiary age, and the Ripley Formation and McNairy Sand of Cretaceous age. About 180 million gallons per day of freshwater are withdrawn from the Mem- phis Sand, primarily for municipal and industrial use; the Memphis Sand is the principal aquifer supplying the City of Memphis. The alluvium provides water for irrigation and some industrial uses, and the fluvial deposits provide water for domestic use in rural areas. The Fort Pillow Sand supplies water for some municipal and industrial uses. The Ripley-McNairy aquifer is not used as a source of water.

Water from the alluvium, fluvial deposits, and Memphis Sand is a calcium bicarbonate type, and water from the Fort Pillow Sand and Ripley- McNairy aquifer is a sodium bicarbonate type. Dissolved-solids concentrations are low in the Memphis Sand, with a median value of 83 milli- grams per liter, and are high in the Ripley- McNairy aquifer with a value of about 1,000 milligrams per liter. Water is very soft in the Fort Pillow Sand with a median hardness value of 9 milligrams per liter as CaC03 and is very hard in the alluvium with a median value of 285 milli- grams per liter. Iron concentrations are low in the fluvial deposits with a median value of 50 micrograms per liter and are high in the alluvium with a median value of 5,200 micrograms per liter. Temperature of the water generally in- creases with depth, ranging from 16.0 degrees Celsius in the alluvium and fluvial deposits to about 32.0 degrees Celsius in the Ripley-McNairy aquifer.

Water from the Memphis Sand at Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division well fields has very low mineralization. Median values are 79 milligrams per liter dissolved-solids concentra- tions, 56 milligrams per liter alkalinity as CaC03, 46 milligrams per liter hardness as CaC03, 4 milligrams per liter chloride, 3.5 milligrams per liter sulfate, and 600 micrograms per liter iron.

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