MEMPHIS, Tenn. —MLGW said despite warmer temperatures, the boil water notice is in effect until further notice.
Officials said while there are no contaminants in the water, they’re aware of, they’re still seeing low pressure. Additionally, they said the water system is still under a lot of stress.
They even said there are so many water breaks it hasn’t even discovered them all.
However, MLGW said things are moving in the right direction. They are putting more boots on the ground to identify the water main breaks, but that is proving to be a challenge as melting snow can be confused with water main breaks.
On Sunday, they temporarily increased water pressure hoping to make those leaks more apparent. A lot of damage has been done to the city’s distribution system, much of which was built in the 1930s.
For the first time in days, temperatures are getting back to normal with many areas seeing temperatures reaching into the 50s. And while the warmer temps are a welcomed sight for some, MLGW President and CEO JT Young said it could lead to more problems on an already stressed water system.
For one, Young said with the snow melting, it’s easy for people to confuse the water running down the street as a water main break leading to what he calls “phantom callouts”.
But officials said the biggest issue will be when the ground warms up causing shifts in the pipes.
“Water mains don’t actually freeze. It’s just the freezing and thawing of the ground that puts stress on the pipes that makes them break,” Nick Newman, MLGW VP of Engineering and Operations, said.
MLGW is extending the boil water advisory until crews can stabilize the water pressure and get it tested and certified through the state. The utility company is also asking all customers to continue reducing their water usage as much as possible until further notice.
However, WREG learned not everyone is adhering to the request.
We received reports of car washes fully operating.
“If there’s a way to stop that, we would hope that the owners of those car washes would close those down to stop using the water for car washes,” Newman said.
MLGW officials encourage customers with any water issues to report them immediately as they have crews working around the clock to repair the system and fix any leaks.
But, they say they don’t know when things will be back to normal and when water service will be fully restored for everyone.
Customers like Shenan Arnold say they’re just going to wait things out the best way they can.
“It’s an eye-opening experience to realize things can go down at the drop of a dime with the weather and we have to be prepared to protect and feed and water our families at the end of the day,” Arnold said.
MLGW says the Tennessee Valley Authority is partnering with local elected officials to donate 80,000 bottles of water to MLGW customers.
We’re told they will release the details on the donation sites tomorrow morning.