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Memphis-area water and utility updates – Memphis Local, Sports … – The Daily Memphian

Memphis Light, Gas and Water employees Audrey Summers (left) and Ronald Shotwell handout cases of bottle water to MLGW customers on Monday, December 26, 2022. Due to numerous water main beaks MLGW customers are under a boil water advisory. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian)

Keep up with the latest information regarding water outages, the boil water advisory, and more.

Keep up with the latest information regarding water outages, the boil water advisory, and more.
Memphians can expect to remain under the city’s boil water advisory for at least another day or two, according to the latest update from Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division.
“I would suggest another one to two days is a reasonable expectation,” MLGW President and CEO Doug McGowen said at a 2 p.m. press conference Wednesday, Dec. 28.
MLGW CEO says water pressure is slowly returning
McGowen expects samples currently being taken from 36 sites to come back this afternoon. 
The lifting of the advisory may not be uniform, however.
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Non-essential water use is allowed again in Shelby County as Memphis Light, Gas and Water emerges from its emergency management phase. 
Under its drought management plan, MLGW prohibited non-essential water use, including car washes, but rolled back that mandate Wednesday, Dec. 28. 
“MLGW is making progress,” the utility said in a statement. “Water pressure is increasing.” 
MLGW CEO says water pressure is slowly returning
MLGW water customers are still under a boil water advisory. 
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Welcome back to Table Talk, where The Daily Memphian’s food and dining editor Jennifer Biggs sends the latest food news (along with a dash of this and that) to subscribers every Wednesday.
The tree is still blinking with its festive little lights and the fridge remains full of leftovers, but I already know what I want for Christmas next year. I bet you want the same thing:
How about some sound infrastructure?
I’m talking to you, City of Memphis. And you, State of Tennessee. You, Congress. And, of course, you too, Memphis Light, Gas and Water.
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As the City of Memphis continues to grapple with a water crisis, Memphis Light, Gas & Water President and CEO Doug McGowen said the situation is trending in the right direction and businesses could return to normal operations.
In a Tuesday evening, Dec. 27, update, McGowen said that pressure is slowly returning to the city system. 
“Pressure is building throughout the system and soon areas without water should begin to see some flow, and areas experiencing low pressure should see increasing pressure with each passing hour,” he said. 
38,000+ MLGW customers have little to no water
He did not offer any specific time frame for full restoration of water service.
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Suburbs in Shelby County including Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown and Millington have separate water systems and are mostly unaffected by the water crisis. (The Daily Memphian file)
Suburban municipalities like Arlington and Lakeland without their own water treatment plants have been impacted by Memphis Light, Gas and Water’s recent precautionary boil order for its customers.
But other suburbs in Shelby County including Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown and Millington have separate water systems and, for the most part, are unaffected by the water issues.
Without its own separate water utility, Lakeland residents are served by MLGW for water service. The city’s sewer service is provided by the City of Lakeland but billed by the MLGW billing department based upon water consumption.
38,000+ MLGW customers have little to no water
“As all customers of MLGW under the boil water advisory, the primary concern of residents is to know a game plan of when the advisory will end, and to be provided assurances that the water is once again safe for consumption” Lakeland City Manager Michael Walker said. “Additionally, in the case of broken pipes, I would hope that MLGW would provide grace in billing adjustments for our residents for any additional and extreme usage that may occur due to broken pipes.”
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Local members of the Tennessee General Assembly say they will provide oversight of Memphis Light, Gas and Water in the upcoming legislative session and are considering bills related to infrastructure funding, emergency preparedness and more.
John Gillespie
State Rep. John Gillespie (R-Memphis) expressed impatience with the water crisis and said he would pursue infrastructure funding.
Not a normal day: How Memphis restaurants are coping with city water issues
“Water service is a basic function of local government,” Gillespie wrote in a text message.
“I’m frustrated with MLGW’s lengthy boil water alert like most Memphians,” he said. “I will be seeking state funding to replace and repair Memphis’ aging water pipes when the state legislature convenes in January. Tennessee is in a sound financial position and can afford to provide critical funding to Memphis to repair and replace our aging water infrastructure.”
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The bowl game is on.
The restroom situation at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, however, will be different than usual when Arkansas and Kansas meet on Wednesday, Dec. 28, in the 64th AutoZone Liberty Bowl (4:30 p.m., ESPN).
Grizzlies game still on as scheduled despite water woes
Stadium officials issued a statement delivered Tuesday night by the AutoZone Liberty Bowl suggesting the game will be played as scheduled despite water woes in Memphis stemming from last week’s winter storm.
“The City of Memphis and MLGW (Memphis Light, Gas and Water),” the statement read, “are working to ensure that the 2022 AutoZone Liberty Bowl Game will continue (Wednesday) despite water pressure issues in Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.”
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More than 38,000 Memphis Light, Gas and Water ratepayers — or 15% of water customers — have little to no water.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis Light, Gas & Water President Doug McGowen gave an update on the city’s water crisis Tuesday, Dec. 27.
Broken water mains are being repaired and water pressure is increasing, but Strickland and McGowen stopped short of giving a precise timeline on when the city’s boil water advisory will end.
Water problems will continue for four to five days as MLGW finds leaks ‘everywhere’
McGowen said it could take “a few days” to get the leaks fixed and the system stabilized. From there, it could take “a couple of days” to sample the water and lift the advisory.
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Despite water woes in the city, Tuesday’s Memphis Grizzlies game still will be played and fans are welcome.
According to a news release issued Tuesday afternoon by the Grizzlies, “Following consultation with the City of Memphis and MLGW, the Memphis Grizzlies have determined their Dec. 27 home game against the Phoenix Suns will proceed as planned despite water pressure issues throughout the City of Memphis stemming from recent winter weather conditions.”
38,000+ MLGW customers have little to no water
The Grizzlies and Suns meet at 7 p.m. at FedExForum.
However, the Grizzlies also announced, “The only change to concessions within FedExForum for tonight’s game will be the absence of fountain drinks, but canned/bottled beverages will be available in its place. Restrooms will also be available with no restriction as the current water pressure level inside FedExForum is above the required levels.”
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Water problems have forced several Memphis area health care organizations to temporarily shut down. 
Shelby County Health Department issued a statement saying its headquarters at 814 Jefferson and Cawthon Public Health Clinic at 1000 Haynes St. would be closed Tuesday, Dec. 27, and Wednesday, Dec. 28, because of flooding caused by broken water lines. 
The health department anticipates reopening those locations Thursday, Dec. 29. 
Health department services at 1826 Sycamore View and other satellite public health clinics remain unaffected by the closures. 
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MLGW is asking Memphis businesses to let office employees work from home Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 27 and 28, in order to reduce water use in office buildings as the utility continues to work to fix the area’s water system.
In his latest update, Memphis Light, Gas and Water’s President and CEO Doug McGowen put particular emphasis on the problems created by having office workers in commercial buildings, specifically low and fluctuating water pressure in office buildings and the impact that has on commercial restrooms.
“To the extent possible for office workers, on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, please allow the maximum opportunity for remote work so that we can avoid having significant plumbing function issues in your offices,” McGowen said. “Thanks for helping us in that way.”
MLGW also has been particularly focused on commercial customers where fire protection systems have had leaks. Such systems, McGowen said, “are designed to deliver very high volumes of water, and when they break, they cause dramatic drops in our system pressure.”
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A sudden and swift blast of cold weather that froze pipes and caused leaks all around Memphis left some city residents without running water as of Monday, Dec. 26.
It left others with low pressure and others still to boil what water they do have before use, per an advisory from Memphis Light, Gas and Water.
Local businesses and restaurants were also affected by the water woes.
While some restaurants remained closed Monday following the Christmas holiday, others were open, finding unique ways to adapt to the boil advisory.
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Memphis, Light, Gas and Water customers should cut back on all “non-essential” water use as the utility announced the start of an emergency water management plan.
The announcement comes as the utility continues to work to restore normal operation of water distribution in the Memphis area. MLGW earlier Monday estimated it would four to five days before the water system was restored to normal.
MLGW has now implemented what it calls an Emergency Water Management Phase of the Drought Management Plan. The announcement came hours after MLGW said that the city’s water issues could take another four to five days to fully fix.
The boil water advisory remains in effect, which came as a result of the reduced water pressure caused by recent extreme weather. That boil water advisory has resulted in numerous businesses – especially restaurants – being unable to open. MLGW also began to distribute bottled water Monday from 1 to 3 and will continue to do so on Tuesday. (Click here for the locations.)
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The city’s water issues could take another four to five days to fully fix, even as the number of broken water mains has been dramatically reduced.
“It’s a been a really rough couple of days for our community,” said Doug McGowen, president and CEO of Memphis, Light, Gas and Water at a mid-day press conference, Monday, Dec. 26. 
Water pressure being reduced for some customers as MLGW continues to fix breaks
As a result of the continued problems, the boil water advisory remains in place. 
Overall, McGowen said that the utility’s water distribution system suffered 22 breaks. Nineteen of those breaks have been repaired and the remaining three are currently being worked on. McGowen said that he expects them to be fixed “very quickly.”
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As the boil water advisory remains in effect for all MLGW customers, MLGW is set to hold a press conference at noon on Monday.
The Daily Memphian will livestream the press conference if MLGW makes the stream available. We will have an article on the press conference after it concludes.
Water pressure for some customers was decreased overnight as Memphis Light, Gas and Water continues to try to fix water line breaks from the recent extreme cold weather.
MLGW said Sunday night that the remaining water breaks are “significantly” decreasing water pressure in the system, which prevents some customers from getting water. 
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Water pressure for some customers will be decreased overnight as Memphis Light, Gas and Water continues to try to fix water line breaks from the recent extreme cold weather.
As a result, MLGW will be distributing bottled water to customers at three MLGW locations starting Monday, Dec. 26.
Weather the weather: Memphians brave the cold for Christmas service
MLGW said the remaining water breaks are “significantly” decreasing water pressure in the system, which prevents some customers from getting water. As a result of the low water pressure in some areas, MLGW is continuing to recommend that customers boil water before consuming it or using it for cooking as a precaution.
Bottled water will be distributed by MLGW starting Monday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the following locations:
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Candles are often used in Christmas Eve services to symbolize Jesus’ arrival as “the Light of the World,” but they played a dual role Saturday when a rolling blackout hit St. Michael Church.
St. Michael Church grows against the grain, expands on Summer Ave.
The Christmas Eve Mass was so crowded some worshipers had to stand. (Karen Focht/Special to The Daily Memphian)
The electricity was out for 4 p.m. Mass at the Catholic church at 3863 Summer Ave. The building was cold and dark, but the pews were packed with so many people bundled in warm clothes that some had to sit on the floor or stand. 
Father Ben Bradshaw led the Mass, and worshipers sang “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night” by candlelight. Just as communion ended, the lights came on, the congregation gasped, and, as if on cue, began singing “Joy to the World.”
Despite a rolling blackout, the Christmas Eve Mass was so crowded some worshipers sat on the floor at St. Michael Caholic Church at 3863 Summer Ave. (Karen Focht/Special to The Daily Memphian)
 
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MLGW is recommending all customers boil water before consuming it, an expansion of its precautionary advisory that originally applied to only some customers.
The expanded advisory comes as a result of “a significant loss of (water) pressure to Memphis and Shelby County,” MLGW said in a statement issued at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday. The full statement is included below.
MLGW recommends water is boiled for at least three minutes before it is consumed, including being used for cooking or making ice. An early advisory only applied to customers in some parts of Shelby County.
More blackouts unlikely, MLGW says; 226,000 users have been without electricity
Due to freezing weather and power outages, MLGW has experienced multiple line breaks which has resulted in a significant loss of pressure to Memphis and Shelby County in the drinking water system. (The Daily Memphian file)
The water boil recommendation is a result of low water pressure caused by “a growing number of water main breaks,” MLGW said. As of 9:15 p.m. Saturday, MLGW knew of five water main breaks.
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The likelihood of continued forced blackouts is “low,” according to MLGW after a total of 226,000 customers have so far been without electricity as a result of rolling blackouts required by TVA.
Fewer than 1,000 MLGW customers remain without power as of 7 p.m. on Saturday. The rolling blackouts have ended, MLGW said.
However, since Friday, rolling blackouts have started and stopped — sometimes on short notice — as TVA has dealt with problems in its network of power-generation facilities and transmission lines.
Over half of MLGW customers have faced rolling blackouts
“The risk of additional forced blackouts is low for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” said MLGW President and CEO Doug McGowen. As of 7 p .m. on Saturday, according to McGowen the TVA grid is “stable” and added that MLGW does not expect any more “weather-induced electrical outages into next week.”
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Residents in specific areas of southeast and north Shelby County are “strongly advised” to comply with MLGW’s boil water advisory, according to the Shelby County Health Department.
Multiple line breaks and production issues have resulted in a significant loss of water pressure in these areas, which include parts of southeast Memphis, Germantown and Millington.
Over half of MLGW customers have faced rolling blackouts
Tap water should be boiled for at least three minutes before consumption, including drinking and cooking.
Water pressure loss and water main breaks can allow disease-causing microbes into the water system; those bacteria, viruses and other parasites can cause gastrointestinal distress including nausea, cramps, diarrhea and headache.
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More than half of Memphis Light, Gas and Water’s customers have been impacted by mandatory rolling blackouts over the past two days, according to President Doug McGowen. 
“Should we have continued this work throughout the next 24 hours, all of our customers would have experienced a blackout of some variety or another,” McGowen said. 
The Tennessee Valley Authority enacted mandatory rolling blackouts among its 153 local power companies on Friday morning, Dec. 23. The historic move was made as the TVA saw a record power demand. 
Watch the MLGW winter storm update live
This is the first time the TVA or MLGW have had to curtail its power using rolling blackouts. 
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Watch the MLGW conference live.
 
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Rolling blackouts are lasting longer than expected, and in areas not included in the previously announced plan from Memphis, Light, Gas and Water. 
The Tennessee Valley Authority implemented a never-before-taken action called Step 50 to mandate rolling blackouts across its service area on Friday, Dec. 23 to avoid widespread outages.
Northcentral ends rolling outages in N. Miss.
MLGW initiated its first round of rolling blackouts on Friday morning just before the TVA rescinded its order. At the time, MLGW said it was mandated to reduce its total electric load by 5%. 
They’re underway again Saturday morning, Dec. 24, and this time, MLGW has to shed 10% of its load. 
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Northcentral Electric Cooperative, which supplies electricity to eastern DeSoto County and western Marshall County in northern Mississippi, has ceased rolling outages as of Saturday, Dec. 24.
Olive Branch copes with low gas pressure amid extreme cold
The announcement comes following the Tennessee Valley Authority’s request Saturday, Dec. 24 to its customer utilities to reduce electric usage due to high demand caused by below-freezing temperatures. 
NEC is still asking members to conserve their energy usage.
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Memphis Light, Gas & Water has issued a boil water advisory for parts of Southeast Memphis, Germantown and Millington. 
Memphis Light, Gas & Water has issued a boil water advisory for parts of Southeast Memphis, Germantown and Millington. (The Daily Memphian file)
MLGW announced late Friday, Dec. 23, that multiple line breaks and production issues had resulted in a significant loss of water pressure in Southeast and north Shelby County. Utility customers in those areas should boil water for three minutes before drinking or consuming it or use bottled water instead. 
Southeast Memphis customers within this border are under a boil water advisory. (Courtesy MLGW)
TVA facing outages, record demand as rolling blackouts loom
Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking but also brushing teeth, food preparation, washing dishes and making ice. 
Customers in the impacted areas are also being asked to conserve water usage. 
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The Memphis Police Department responded to 205 crashes between 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22 — just before it issued its Inclement Weather Crash Policy — and 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23.
Crashes MPD responded to were those that involved injuries, drugs or drinking as well as those that needed wreckers on the scene. The total does not include all wrecks that occurred.
In the hour before the policy was issued, police responded to 43 crashes. There were 23 crashes in the following hour, and 22 the next. 
Mix of sleet and snow blows in as temperatures nosedive to zero
After midnight, the number of crashes hit the single digits. 
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Olive Branch is reporting instances of low gas pressures in eastern and western areas of the city.
The city’s Public Works Department is working on the system in the eastern part of the city, while Atmos Energy is servicing its system to the west amid sub-freezing temperatures following the Thursday, Dec. 22, winter storm.
Olive Branch is now requesting residents serviced by the city to reduce natural gas usage, said spokesman Jay Nichols. 
“It’s getting a little better at this time. It’s very slow.”
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The Tennessee Valley Authority is facing outages as rolling blackouts loom over its customers.
“Due to the extreme cold and high winds, we have lost some generation, and our employees are working around the clock to return these units to service,” chief operating officer Don Moul said. “We will continue to manage the system in spite of the challenging circumstances.” 
MLGW preps to restart rolling blackouts
The federally owned utility faces outages at two of its coal-fired plants — Cumberland and Bull Run — along with some of its natural gas plants, according to spokesperson Scott Brooks. 
Typical power demand for December is around 24,000 megawatts. Its power demand surpassed 33,000 megawatts on Friday — a nearly 60% increase from Thursday. 
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Toward the end of the Thursday, Dec. 22, work day on the way to a Sunday Christmas, temperatures in the city took a sudden plunge below freezing and toward the zero mark rapidly behind a band of fast-moving ice and snow.
The City of Memphis transitioned all of its services by around 6 p.m. to at least a 24-hour continuous battle with the cold and the snow and the ice that has affected most of the continental United States.
The Memphis Police Department confirmed one weather-related death that was discovered in the 1400 block of Union Avenue at 8:06 a.m. Friday.
“Officers were flagged down regarding a man down where officers located a deceased male,” Officer Mercedes Rodriguez, a public information officer with MPD, wrote in an email.
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