In Memphis, 600K Are on Day 4 of Boil Water Notice

Utility says advisory probably won't be lifted until Thursday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 23, 2024 12:00 AM CST
Memphis Is on Day 4 of Boil Water Notice
Memphis Light Gas & Water makes repairs to a broken water main in north Memphis, Tennessee, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024.   (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)

Memphis was on its fourth day of living under a boil water notice on Monday, as repair crews worked to fix broken pipes in the hopes of easing the stress caused by a week of sub-freezing temperatures, snow, and ice. Memphis' water company issued an advisory on Friday that residents of the city of more than 600,000 people should boil water they intended to use for drinking, brushing their teeth, and preparing food, the AP reports. That's because low pressure in the system and breaks in water mains could allow harmful bacteria to contaminate the water supply.

Some residents lost all water service after winter storms that have caused at least 75 deaths around the US this month, many involving hypothermia or road accidents. Memphis Light, Gas and Water CEO Doug McGowen told reporters Sunday afternoon that crews were making progress with repairs and that he expected most customers to have water service restored on Monday and Tuesday. They will still have to boil water, likely through Thursday, though. Pamela Wells had been without water since Thursday morning when she noticed a trickle coming through on Sunday night. "We kept praying that it was a sign that water was on the way," she says.

She woke up Monday morning to find water pressure restored to about 40% of normal. "Hopefully we're on our way to full restoration of our water," Wells says. The utility has repaired 56 water main breaks and located more than 4,000 leaks at homes and businesses. Memphis was the largest but not the only water system in Tennessee to experience problems from the unusually cold weather. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said on Sunday night that 28 water systems were under boil water notices and that 17 counties were reporting operational issues with their water utilities.

(More boil water order stories.)

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