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Some Germantown residents still smell diesel odor

By , Daily Memphian Updated: July 29, 2023 10:56 AM CT | Published: July 28, 2023 3:12 PM CT

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Some Germantown residents are still smelling a diesel odor emitting from their faucets after a multiple rounds of flushing their pipes. 

A flush-only order for much of Germantown was lifted Thursday, July 27. Residents were encouraged to flush their faucets so standing water could drain.

Germantown says all water customers may resume usage

Residents still smelling diesel are asked to flush their faucets five times and then revert to using the water only for flushing toilets if the problem persists. Residents should also call City Hall at 901-757-7200 if they continue to smell the scent.

Germantown residents were encouraged to use water only for flushing toilets, and not for drinking or bathing, beginning Thursday, July 20. The city administration said that a generator, which was being used to power the Southern Avenue water plant, leaked diesel and contaminated 4.2 million gallons of water.

Germantown plans for water distribution through Sunday

The City of Germantown is compiling a list of frequently asked questions. Questions can be submitted to

The city said between 1% and 2% of the 15,000 houses in the suburb still have a fuel smell in their lines. However, they seem to be in similar areas. The city is performing additional flushing to try and remediate the areas where the scent is lingering.

Often times, this occurs at the top of hills or where a line ends, such as in cul-de-sacs. 

Germantown residents north of Poplar can resume water use after flushing

The city is testing those areas per Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation regulations and will continue flushing water mains until tests in those areas are clear.

The city will continue distributing water through the weekend at Forest Hill Elementary School, 3368 Forest Hill-Irene Road. Due to a large number of donations, a minimum of two cases will be given per car. The site is open on Friday from 4 until 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon. Sunday water will be distributed from 1 until 4 p.m.

Flushing pipes

Flushing will help remove water that has been standing in interior pipes. Those who have who do not detect a diesel odor when they turn faucets on should let the water run for five minutes. Those who smell the fuel from flushing or previously caught the scent should follow a more thorough process:

  • Open a few cold water taps and run for 15 minutes to clear the residential water line from the main
  • Open cold taps one at a time and run for five minutes to clean each specific line. The city said to begin nearest to where water enters the building and then move to farthest tap. Repeat for all cold taps.
  • Then do the previous two steps, but with hot water. To flush a water heater, fill a bathtub twice.
  • The city encouraged any dishes or clothing washed during the restriction be rewashed.
  • Devices using water, such as ice-makers, may require additional cleaning.


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Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.


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