MLGW has update on water issues Saturday

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — You can stop dripping your pipes tonight, MLGW said Saturday as the area’s temperatures finally began to climb above the freezing mark, but you’ll still need to boil it before drinking.

MLGW says this was the longest stretch of cold temperatures the city has experienced since the 1940s, but Saturday the area is expected to thaw out.

MLGW CEO JT Young said the thaw will likely cause more water pipes to burst.

“We have crews staffed up to respond all day to that,” he said.

Customers should insulate their water pipes, inside and outside. If water needs to be turned off because of a burst pipe, they can call MLGW at 901-528-4465.

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Young said there are no issues with water quality, and it is still safe to shower or wash hands. But customers are under a boil-water advisory as a precaution.

“We have found no contaminants in the water,” he said. “We just want to make sure, extra sure.”

He said MLGW is not able to give a date when the advisory will be lifted, but may know more by Sunday.

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Low water pressure is plaguing the system, which is why MLGW is asking customers to conserve water by taking shorter showers, for instance. That includes asking large commercial customers to curtail water usage.

“If we all conserve, we can get through this together,” MLGW spokesperson Gale Jones Carson said.

Nick Newman, MLGW’s vice president of engineering, said customers may see brown or rusty water in some areas because iron in the water is stirred up because of freezing or repairs by crews.

Newman said low water pressure problems were affecting areas across the county, with concentrations in East Memphis near St. Francis Hospital and downtown. Shelby Forest, where Newman lives, was probably the hardest hit.

Young said MLGW is not turning off residential customers, despite rumors that have been circulating.

MLGW executives thanked the public for their patience.

“These are challenging times,” Young said. “We are doing everything we can, as quickly as we can to restore the water system.”

MLGW executives say they are planning upgrades to the water system, some of which dates to the 1930s.

WREG’s Weather Experts said that until Saturday, the Memphis area remained under 32 degrees for nine straight days, tying a record streak set in 1940 and 1899.

The freeze impacted daily life for 257,000 MLGW customers. Some boiled snow for drinking water. Some restaurants were forced to close.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis said it was forced to switch to bottled drinking water and bagged ice and that staff and patients were washing with hand sanitizer and no-rinse bathing wipes. All non-urgent surgeries were postponed.

Rhodes College in Memphis said Friday that about 700 residential students were being moved to hotels in the suburbs of Germantown and Collierville after school bathrooms stopped functioning because of low water pressure.

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