Memphis residents should dramatically reduce ‘non-essential’ water use, MLGW says

By , Daily Memphian Updated: December 27, 2022 2:21 PM CT | Published: December 26, 2022 4:29 PM CT

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.)

For residential customers, MLGW’s new announcement means that they should limit water use, including:

  • No washing cars or other vehicles.
  • Not washing clothes or dishes if possible and and doing so by hand if necessary.
  • Taking short showers instead of baths in the bath tub.
  • No letting water run while shaving.
  • No use of water to defrost frozen foods.
  • No hosing off driveways and sidewalks.

For commercial and industrial customers, MLGW is asking that water use be limited, including:

  • Reduce water use to 75% of normal levels, unless water is “needed for production of goods and services.”
  • No “flushing out any systems unless necessary.”
  • Nursers and garden centers should use the minimal amount of water needed to keep plants alive.

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.

MLGW President and CEO Doug McGowen said earlier Monday that the utility’s water distribution system suffered 22 breaks, 19 of which had been repaired. The remaining three were being worked on. McGowen said he expected them to be fixed “very quickly.”

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

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

McGowen’s earlier update is here.

The most recent statement from MLGW is as follows:

MLGW has initialized the Emergency Water Management Phase of the Drought Management Plan. All customers need to limit all non-essential water uses as MLGW works to find, fix or isolate main breaks and broken water services.

All non-essential water uses such as washing cars is prohibited until further notice. All carwash facilities are being notified to cease operations effective immediately.

Residential Customers should limit water usage by:

  • Not washing vehicles
  • Washing of clothes and dishes only when necessary and by hand using a dishpan if possible
  • Not letting water run while shaving
  • Taking short showers instead of tub baths (Turning off the water flow while soaping or shampooing. If you must use a tub, close the drain before turning on the water and fill the tub only half full.)
  • Not using water to defrost frozen foods (Thaw in the refrigerator overnight instead)
  • Sweeping driveways, sidewalks and steps rather than hosing off

Commercial and Industrial Customers should limit water usage by:

  • Not flushing out any systems unless necessary
  • Cutting back to 75% usage unless water is needed for production of goods and services
  • Any nurseries, garden centers, etc. should only use the amount of water necessary to keep plants alive


MLGW boil water advisory


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