Memphis is located in the part of the Gulf Coastal Plain known as the Mississippi embayment. It is underlain by unconsolidated sand and clay formations of Tertiary and Cretaceous age. The Wilcox group, of Tertiary age, and the Ripley formation, of Cretaceous age, are excellent aquifers, and all the water consumed in Memphis is derived from them. The maximum pumpage from the Wilcox group was reached about 1920; in that year an estimated average of 37,575,000 gallons a day was pumped. In 1928 the average daily pumpage from the Wilcox group was about 33,984,000 gallons, and in addition to this the Memphis Artesian Water Department pumped an average of 4,616,000 gallons a day from the Ripley formation.
The static level at Memphis varies with the pumpage and the stage of the Mississippi River. The original static level was about 235 feet above mean sea level. In 1928 the average static level at the Auction Avenue plant was 202 feet above mean sea level, which was about 33 feet lower than the original level. The yield is therefore about a million gallons a day for each foot of drawdown. The drawdown is not excessive, and additional pumpage can be developed without undue lowering of head.
The water from both the Wilcox group and the Ripley formation is fairly soft and has a moderately low content of dissolved mineral matter. The iron content is sufficiently high to be objectionable, but the iron is easily removed by aeration followed by either settling or filtration for removal of sediment.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
A preliminary report on the artesian water supply of Memphis, Tennessee