MLGW under pressure to repair main leaks, restore water service

Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 10:32 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - MLGW restored power to everyone by midnight on Christmas Eve. The big problem facing the utility now is broken water mains, and leaky pipes and the race is on to repair the damage.

All MLGW water customers are under a Boil Water Advisory. They are also being asked to reduce non-essential water use as the utility attempts to stabilize the water pressure.

Monday night, MLGW President, Doug McGowen asked business owners and bosses to allow employees to work from home Tuesday and Wednesday in order to put less stress on the water system. Right now, pipes and water mains across Memphis and Shelby County are no match for Mother Nature.

The situation is particularly bad at the Monarch on Highland, a high-rise that once housed senior citizens but was recently remodeled.

Mary Lowe’s 7th-floor apartment is a mess. Water poured through her living room ceiling causing it to collapse, and more water was coming in under the door from a flooded hallway.

“I’m upset,” Lowe told Action News 5, “the ceiling caved in and there’s a huge hole. Out in the hallway, water is dripping from the ceiling. I have to spend the night at a friend’s house tonight because obviously, I can’t stay here, and we don’t have heat at the moment either.”

Two floors down in Jordan Walker’s apartment, water is leaking in from flooding in the unoccupied unit next door. A pipe above her closet broke, flooding her bedroom. There’s no running water. No heat. Still, Jordan said she’s going to try and tough it out.

“But I am concerned,” she said, “That maybe tomorrow if it’s not addressed, and mold starts to develop, that’s when I’m like really, really concerned.”While MLGW customers deal with the fallout from the frigid temperatures, the utility’s crews are working non-stop in the cold and dark to fix Memphis’ water delivery system.

“Our water pumping stations are responding,” MLGW President Doug McGowen said during a noon briefing on Monday, “We’re trying to increase the pressure in order to get some water through to people, but we realize we’re pushing more water out through those leaks while we’re doing it.”

McGowen said crews have repaired 20 water main breaks and are working on another seven. Service technicians helped 461 home and business customers secure their water and are working on another 180 right now.

The water crisis has impacted the Shelby County Jail at 201 Poplar. A spokesperson for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said they are “power flushing” inside the jail, pouring water into commodes on upper floors to try and alleviate low water pressure.

A loved one of an inmate told Action News 5, “They don’t have water and can’t use the bathroom.”

Shelby County’s new $25 million Health Department on Jefferson will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday because of broken pipes and flooding. The City of Memphis announced these branches of the public library will remain closed on Tuesday because of weather-related issues:

  • Whitehaven
  • Poplar-White Station
  • Randolph
  • East Shelby

From the Borda Towers in Downtown Memphis to St. Peter Manor in Midtown, thousands of Memphians are struggling to get through their daily lives with no water or water pressure so low, it makes life difficult.

Back at the Monarch on Highland, going on four days now since the first flooding started, Jordan Walker sees a glimmer of hope in her situation.

“I just have to be grateful,” she said, “There are people who are probably going through it way worse than I am. It’s just me. I don’t have any children. I’m ok with me. But if I had a family, that would be different.”

MLGW President McGowen warned that as the temperatures warm up more pipes will break. He said it will likely take at least four to five days to repair Memphis’ water system.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.