MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When will Memphis’ water be safe to drink? MLGW President Doug McGowen addressed that question at a news conference Wednesday.

First, the water system has to be at full pressure. McGowen said that was happening beginning Wednesday.

Next, teams have to go collect samples from across the system. The samples have to be put in an incubator and remain there for 18 hours to see if cultures grow any bacteria.

If the samples are clean, they are sent to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to confirm the results. 

At that point, the boil water advisory can be lifted.

McGowen expects the advisory to be lifted in some areas before others.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says the winter storm last weekend claimed seven lives across the state, and at least one of those deaths was in Memphis.

Thirty-four Tennessee counties, including Shelby, are still reporting issues with their water systems. Twelve jurisdictions currently have boil water advisories in effect.