MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A water main break has left some downtown Memphis residents and businesses without water, sewer or electricity service for five days and counting.
The water main break happened Friday near the intersection of Main Street and Monroe Avenue. Public Works director Robert Knecht said it was reported to the city Saturday, and MLGW came out and made repairs.
But the force from the pressure of the water in the broken main moved a sewer pipe 42 feet underground, and that repair is causing challenges, Knecht said. In the meantime, the businesses and residents nearby are left cut off from utilities.
“This pit over here has been an ongoing issue, where the water main broke, which was the cause of everything,” said Gail Palmerhouse, who owns the building with Flight restaurant and five apartments above.
MLGW told us there could be several reasons why the water main broke including weather changes, shifting of the ground, and age since that particular water main was over 110 years old.
They also said customers they did talk to were told it could take over eight to ten hours before repairs could be made because of the thickness of the concrete.
With no cooking, there are no customers at Flight. Across the street at Bogie’s Delicatessen, it’s pretty much the same.
“This is our third day of losing revenue for this week, and from what I understand it could be seven days before it’s all fixed,” said John Ehemann with Bogie’s. “I am not happy at all. We already lost seven catering jobs we would have had through these two days alone.”
At Brinkley Plaza, people coming to Immigration Court found it closed, too. The sign on the door tells visitors they are closed until further notice.
Basements also were left flooded. Ehemann said in his building, electrical panels and the elevator were under water.
People nearby say water main breaks like this are all too common. WREG archives show that Bardog restaurant on Monroes flooded in 2019, and had flooded several times before that.
WREG also heard complaints that MLGW took hours to respond.
A long-term repair is likely to take weeks, Knecht said, though the city is working on a temporary bypass they hope can be in place sooner.
Downtown infrastructure and utilities are old and densely packed under the streets, Knecht said. “It’s a very difficult scenario when you’re working downtown,” he said.
The Public Works director said the city is coming up with a plan on how to fix the sewer pipe.