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MEMPHIS, Tennessee. You can stop dripping your pipes tonight, MLGW said on Saturday as temperatures in the area finally start to climb above freezing, but you’ll still need to boil it before drinking.
MLGW says it was the longest period of cold temperatures the city has seen since the 1940s, but the area is expected to thaw on Saturday.
MLGW CEO JT Young said the thaw would likely cause more water pipes to burst.
“We have crews to respond to this all day long,” he said.
Customers must insulate their water lines, inside and out. If the water needs to be shut off due to a burst hose, they can call MLGW at 901-528-4465.
Memphis Light Gas and Water Solves Unprecedented Water Supply Problems After Cold Weather
Young said there was no problem with the quality of the water and it was always safe to shower or wash your hands. But customers are advised to boil water as a precaution.
“We did not find any contaminants in the water,” he said. “We just want to be sure, very secure.”
He said MLGW was unable to give a date when the advisory would be lifted, but could find out more by Sunday.
City of Memphis distributes thousands of water bottles to residents
The City of Memphis will distribute 44,472 free bottles of water Sunday at 10 a.m. at several locations. The limit is one box per car. Click here for locations.
Low water pressure is rampant in the system, which is why MLGW asks customers to conserve water by taking shorter showers, for example. This includes asking large commercial customers to reduce their water use.
“If we all hold on to, we can overcome this together,” said MLGW spokesman Gale Jones Carson.
Nick Newman, vice president of engineering for MLGW, said customers could see brown or rusty water in some areas because the iron in the water was agitated due to freezing or repairs by crews .
Newman said the low water pressure issues were affecting parts of the county, with concentrations east of Memphis near St. Francis Hospital and downtown. Shelby Forest, where Newman lives, was probably the hardest hit.
Young said MLGW is not turning off residential customers, despite rumors circulating.
MLGW executives thanked the audience for their patience.
“These are tough times,” Young said. “We are doing everything we can, as quickly as possible to restore the water system.”
MLGW executives say they are planning water system upgrades, some dating from the 1930s.
WREG weather experts said that until Saturday, the Memphis area remained below 32 degrees for nine consecutive days, tying a record streak set in 1940 and 1899.
The freeze impacted the daily lives of 257,000 MLGW customers. A little boiled snow for drinking water. Some restaurants have been forced to close.
St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital in Memphis said it was being forced to switch to bottled drinking water and bagged ice and that staff and patients were washing with hand sanitizer and leave-in bath wipes. All elective surgeries have been postponed.
Rhodes College in Memphis said on Friday that around 700 residential students were being moved to hotels in the suburbs of Germantown and Collierville after schools’ bathrooms shut down due to low water pressure.
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