MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Beneath Memphis and Shelby County roads and sidewalks, MLGW has 3,700 miles of water mains that deliver water to more than a quarter-million homes and businesses.
10 days of record cold temperatures took a heavy and historic toll on those pipes.
“We are not planning to shut off residential water service,” MLGW CEO and President J.T. Young told reporters during a Friday afternoon conference call. “We don’t have any plans to do any mass customer shut offs of water. And we have not recommended that customers fill up bathtubs and jugs and bottles and all of that. That has not come from MLGW.”
MLGW spent the day dispelling rumors and fixing busted pipes.
65 water main breaks reported so far. 60 repaired. And 1300 frozen service lines to homes and businesses have been reported as well.
“If you don’t have water as a residential customer,” Young said, “it’s likely due to the fact there’s a broken main or that we’ve come out and shut it off because you’ve had a leak.”
The cold weather also caused mechanical problems at MLGW pumping stations.
There’s not enough water coming out of the wells to refill the reservoirs that provide water to 250,000 homes and businesses.
Low or no water pressure crippled Memphis International Airport on Friday, February 19.
All passenger flights had to be canceled without running water for bathrooms, restaurants and airport services.
MLGW Vice President of Engineering, Nick Newman, told reporters the utility’s top priorities are making sure fire departments and hospitals have enough water pressure.
“The hospitals are really struggling,” said Newman, “so we’re trying our best to keep the hospital in business.”
Residential customers use 43% of MLGW’s water.
Commercial customers, including TVA, Valero, Kellogg, City of Memphis waste treatment plants and the Memphis Zoo, use 56-percent.
All customers are being asked to conserve usage, and a Boil Water Advisory now in effect.
It’s purely precautionary, say utility leaders.
“We have no indication,” Young said, “I want to emphasize there’s been no indication of any contaminants in our water system. We have not detected any. We continue to test our water. To my knowledge we have not found any contaminants at all.”
As the weather warms, Young said pipes are expected to break.
If you see water flowing out of the ground, you are asked to call MLGW immediately at (901)528-4465.