Water problems will continue for four to five days as MLGW finds leaks ‘everywhere’

By , Daily Memphian Updated: December 26, 2022 9:07 PM CT | Published: December 26, 2022 1:10 PM CT

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.”

McGowen also said that just since last night, 177 leaks have been cut off at businesses and homes around the city. Another 122 leaks are still being worked on. 

McGowen said he didn’t have a percentage of how many customers are currently without water. 

“That is a dynamic number,” he said.

But McGowen did say there are more areas where customers are without water. Customers without water had been concentrated in Northeast Shelby County but has now expanded to Midtown, McGowen said. 

MLGW: All customers should boil water before use

“What you’ll hear from our crews is that we are finding leaks everywhere now,” he said.

McGowen said that he will be given more updates today regarding when leaks can be expected to be fixed and the boil water advisory will be lifted. 

Before the boil advisory can be lifted, water pressure must be restored, MLGW must then test the water and have the test validated by the State of Tennessee. 

Although it could be a few days before all that is done, McGowen said that water pressure should start to rise and customers should see water coming back during that time. 

MLGW asks that anyone who knows of a water break of any kind contact MLGW at 901-528-4465.

Rolling blackouts end— again

MLGW is also asking that customers no longer let their faucets drip to prevent freezing pipes given that temperatures are above freezing. If temperatures drop below freezing again tonight, customers can once again let their faucets drip.

Asked what MLGW could’ve done better to prevent the current situation, McGowen pointed to recent infrastructure upgrades the utility has made. 

“If we had not made those upgrades, we might have significantly more outages and significantly lower pressure,” he said. 

McGowen also said that customers should not expect to have their water shutoff every time that it gets cold from now on. 

He noted that the impact on the utility’s infrastructure from cold weather nearly two years is still being felt today. 

MLGW issues boil water advisory, begins rolling blackouts

In the meantime, while repairs are still being made, McGowen asked MLGW customers to help the situation by doing the following: 

  • Report leaks in the street when they spot them.
  • Report any leaks they see inside of businesses .
  • If you’re a business owner, check on your business to inspect for leaks.
  • Stop letting faucets drip.
  • Help neighbors who can’t access the utility’s water distribution sites to help them get the water they need. 

“Please check on your neighbors. Make sure they have what they are supposed to,” McGowen said. 

Bottled water will be distributed by MLGW starting Monday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the following locations:

  • 2935 Lamar Ave.
  • 5141 Navy Rd.
  • 1111 E. Shelby Dr.

Doug McGowen heads first MLGW meeting as severe cold bears down on Memphis

Recipients will receive one case of water per car. Bottled water donations will also be accepted.

MLGW is not expecting any additional forced blackouts. A total of 226,000 customers were without electricity as a result of rolling blackouts implemented by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity to MLGW.

At the peak of the outages, a total of 75,000 customers were simultaneously without power. As a result of the extreme weather on Thursday, Dec. 22 – versus the rolling blackouts – a total of 35,000 customers were impacted.


MLGW Doug McGowen boil water advisory
Aarron Fleming

Aarron Fleming

Aarron Fleming is an education reporter with The Daily Memphian. He earned his B.A. in journalism from the University of Memphis.


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