MLGW says it will take 10 years to replace all lead pipes

MLGW says it will take 10 years to replace all lead pipes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It will take 10 years for Memphis Light Gas and Water to replace all of its lead pipes, an MLGW spokesperson said Friday.

FOX13 found MLGW crews replacing lead pipes in an Orange Mound neighborhood Friday morning, fulfilling a promise the utility company made after a FOX13 investigation last year.

FOX13 investigates exposed MLGW did not have an inventory of where their lead pipes were located. Months later, MLGW published a map of its lead water pipes.

“I've been drinking the water with the lead in it all my life,” Stoy Bailey told FOX13. “I'm 84 years old. But I am concerned about the kids.”

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Bailey said he’s relieved the pipes are finally being replaced.

FOX13 found MLGW crews on Seattle Street, Emmie Street, and Euclid Ave, exchanging lead pipes for copper ones that are more safe for drinking water.

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Arianna Ward said she moved to Memphis from Flint, Michigan, a city that experienced a major water crisis last year.

“Moving to a city where they’re actually trying to minimize the lead coming into a home that has my children and my grandson in it is wonderful,” Ward said.

As MLGW continues to inventory its lines, they’re addressing the lead pipes they’re aware of within the Parkways in the Midtown area.

“It’s the right thing to do for the customer,” Chandrika Winston, an MLGW spokesperson, told FOX13. “We are going systematically within the parkways and removing the lead services and replacing them with copper.”

Winston said it will take 10 years to replace the pipes, as MLGW moves through Memphis neighborhoods impacted by lead pipes.

“We’re systematically moving into a neighborhood, we’re staying in that neighborhood until we’re finished, and then we’re moving to the next neighborhood,” Winston said.

It’s a long time to wait for worry-free drinking water that meets EPA standards, but neighbors appreciate progress.

“It goes some of the distance,” Bailey said.

Water in Flint, Michigan made people sick, and investigators found city officials knew about the issue that hurt Flint families. Ward said she’s relieved to see MLGW being proactive.

“Them replacing the pipes and making sure that we're lead free is very important,” Ward said.