What to do when a boil water advisory is issued?

Updated: Feb. 18, 2021 at 9:04 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A boil water advisory means MLGW does not want customers to drink tap water or use it to brush their teeth without boiling it first.

The mandate was issued Thursday after water pressure levels fell too low.

“Low pressure has created a lot of problems with the weather system that over the next few days we are convinced will be corrected,” said J.T. Young, MLGW’s President.

That low pressure was created because the frigid temperatures have caused underground breaks in the water pipes.

Low water pressure increases the risk of bacteria entering the water but MLGW stresses there is no evidence that has happened at this point.

Crews have repaired 48 broken water mains since Saturday and are working on 5 more.

This is the first boil water advisory ever issued by MLGW and there are lots of questions surrounding what to do.

WMC Action News’ 5 Janice Broach dug up a few answers to those commonly asked questions:

Q: Why are boil water mandates issued?

A: Boiled water advisories are issued when contaminants like bacteria get into the water. That can happen when the pipes underground freeze and crack or break It happens when the water pressure gets too low.

Q: Is it safe to use my water filtration instead of boiling my water?

A: No, It is not safe to use your water filtration system. Experts say they cannot get rid of pathogens that could be in the water lime bacteria.

Q: Should I boil water before doing laundry?

A: You shouldn’t do laundry now anyway because of the conserve water request from MLGW but you can do laundry with your regular water but make sure the clothes are completely dry.

Q: Should I boil water before cleaning?

A: Yes, use boiled water or bottled water to sanitize, brush your teeth, wash your face, take a bath and any food preparation. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for three (3) minutes, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water.

Q: Should I boil water before brushing my teeth and etc.?

A: Yes, use boiled water or bottled water to brush your teeth, wash your face and take a bath.

Q: Is it safe to use the ice machine?

A: No, don’t use ice from your refrigerator.

Q: Are pets harmed by the contaminated water too?

A: Yes, pets can be harmed by water that contains contaminants like bacteria, so give the pet boiled or bottled water.

MLGW is also asking its customers to conserve water.

“As far as conserving water, there are a number of things they can do such as taking short showers instead of baths, delay washing their clothes for a few days,” said Gail Jones Carson.

Also, wait a few days to run your dishwasher. MLGW says water conservation will help speed up the process of getting back to normal operations.

In what might seem contradictory, MLGW also says you can let your water faucets drip to keep the pipes from freezing.

Please note that Germantown, Collierville, Millington and Bartlett have all confirmed this does not impact its residents because their water comes from different sources.

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