Wed. Feb 21st, 2024
Residents in the Mid-South are without water

Will digging more wells prevent Shelby County residents from losing water?


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – For almost five days, Melanie Matthews said she had no running water in southern Shelby County, north of the state line with Mississippi.

“You’re using bottled water to try to flush the toilet,” she said. “So to me, that’s a waste within itself.”

It’s the second year in a row that she and her husband, media personality Thaddeus Matthews, have lost all water pressure in their home.

“It’s frustrating that in a city like Memphis, that we have the problems we have with our utilities,” Thaddeus said.

Water crisis

According to MLGW, crews responded to almost 4,000 burst water pipes across the region for both commercial and residential customers.

They are also repairing 81 water mains that broke.

“For the folks that didn’t get water, that is a little unavoidable because of the breaks that we had in the system,” said Doug McGowen, the president and CEO of MLGW. “We all are sympathetic to that and we are taking action.”

McGowen told FOX13 that some residents who live far from pumping stations lost all water pressure during the water crisis. He said the utility provider has dug 12 new wells in the last four years and plans to build eight more this year.

“There are more investments needed,” he said. “But yes, every well we put on is more people that will not lose water in the future if we have a water main break.”

FOX13 asked if the new wells would prevent all customers from losing water in the future.

“I can’t guarantee that (in) every circumstance, nobody would lose water,” McGowen explained. “We have a lot of customers that did not have water because their home was impacted and they had to turn the water off at the street.”

Gas and electricity were constant

Thankfully, very few MLGW customers lost power during Winter Storm Heather. MLGW credits tree-trimming efforts from the last year.

McGowen said the region set a record for an all-time high energy consumption in the history of the Tennessee Valley Authority on January 17 and the second-all time high on January 21st.

Investments from the Tennessee Valley Authority likely prevented rolling blackouts.

MLGW had no challenges with gas, which was “not the case in many areas” around the region, McGowen said.

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