Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Planned, temporary shutdown of MLGW pumping station to begin Oct. 3

MLGW will begin a planned, temporary shut-down of its Mallory Water Pumping Station on Oct. 3. This temporary shutdown, expected to last until April 30, 2017, is required to perform necessary maintenance and will ultimately result in a more reliable water system.

Mallory Pumping Station serves customers in the downtown and midtown areas as well as north of downtown. The approximate north/south boundaries for this service area are Delano Ave./James Road and MLK Jr. Ave./Lamar Ave., respectively. Approximate east/west boundaries will be Hollywood Street and the Mississippi River.

Customers in and around the Mallory Water Pumping Station service area may experience some slight discoloration in their water during this time. This temporary issue is expected as the surrounding water treatment plants in the city begin to serve these customers water.

Customers who notice water discoloration should flush their pipes by opening the faucet farthest from their water meter until the water becomes clear. Discoloration is caused by sediment in the service lines; water remains safe to use and consume.

This planned shutdown was intentionally timed during MLGW's off-peak water demand season in order to minimize disruptions to customers. However, customers could experience some low water pressure issues, particularly in the spring of 2017.

Residential customers experiencing prolonged discoloration of their water or low pressure issues are advised to contact the MLGW Customer Care Center at 901-820-7878 to report these issues.

MLGW's Customer Care Center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The MLGW Business Solutions Center is available to serve commercial and industrial customers. The MLGW Business Solutions Center can be contacted at 901-528-4270 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

As always, MLGW remains dedicated to providing reliable, high-quality water service to its customers.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Share the Pennies program gives neighbors chance to help each other

L to R: Tyrrell and Barbara Avant, a Project Care recipient,
listen as Myjareya Avant reads out loud.

Retired naval base cook Velma McDaniel and school crossing guard Barbara “Nanny” Avant epitomize the best of neighbors helping neighbors. “We all need help some time or another,” said McDaniel, 79.

McDaniel signed up for the Share the Pennies program three years ago. The program rounds up her monthly utility bill to the next whole dollar and allows her to donate the difference to MLGW and MIFA’s Project CARE. The most anyone will ever give in a year’s time is about $12.

Avant applied for Project CARE assistance in 2014. Through McDaniel’s support – and that of others –Project CARE helped Avant replace her gas furnace.

“When you get 66, you think your Social Security is going to take care of you, but it doesn’t,” said Avant, who is raising her grandchildren, Myjareya, 10, and Tyrrell, 9.

Project CARE’s energy efficiency program helps elderly and disabled homeowners with minor repairs costing $1,500 or less. Donations go towards such repairs as replacing heaters or adding attic insulation, double-pane windows or energy efficient doors.

When her furnace started acting up, Avant bought electric space heaters, but it pushed her winter bills to almost $300. “It is half that now,” she said after workers installed a new gas furnace in 2015.
As far as being a Share the Pennies giver, McDaniel never knew until now she was helping a family that lives only a few blocks from her in Frayser. “I was always taught if you were able to give, you are supposed to give,” she said.

The more customers give, the more families MLGW and MIFA can serve. So far, the program has helped 224 families. If you have changed addresses since signing up for Share the Pennies, please call 901-528-4887 so we can continue your contributions.

To sign up or make a one-time donation, go to mlgw.com/sharethepennies.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

On The Right Thing To Do

Supplying safe drinking water to customers is vitally important to MLGW – not just because state and federal laws require it, but because it is the right thing to do.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) are responsible for developing guidelines and procedures and for enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Those rules and regulations apply to all public water supply systems, including MLGW. 

Those rules include provisions for monitoring the effectiveness of corrosion control measures put in place to minimize lead and copper concentrations at customer taps. 

While there is no detectable level of lead in MLGW’s water source, lead service lines and home plumbing exist in some older sections of the city as do copper service lines and home plumbing with lead solder installed after 1982.

MLGW identified a pool of sites that included homes with lead water service lines/home plumbing or service lines/home plumbing made of copper with lead solder. 

In accordance with the rules, MLGW draws 50 sample addresses from the pool of sites -- 25 "lead" and 25 "copper" to test for levels of lead and copper every three years.  Some of the addresses have been tested every three years since the pool of sites was identified in 1991 and the results reported to TDEC; but, if an address is unavailable at the time of testing (the homeowner declines to participate, for instance), then we use another home within the pool of sites. We depend on the customer to collect the samples for the water test.  After each test, we notify the resident of the results.
MLGW has consistently done this testing since rules went into effect and the results show that our corrosion control program works.
Lead exposure is a serious issue and lead paint, not water, is the primary source for lead exposure in Shelby County.
MLGW estimates that out of 254,000 homes and businesses in our service area about 25,000  may have lead service lines. Most of these homes are within the Parkways or just outside the Parkways. MLGW has an interactive map that although not 100 percent accurate provides information regarding where lead service lines may be located.  The interactive map will be updated as MLGW works to verify the data.
President Collins says, "MLGW has a great corrosion control program. In addition we are already actively performing physical inspections of water service lines on a mass basis in order to try to identify what water service lines are made of. Finally we are already actively replacing MLGW’s lead service lines and intend to budget more money for this effort next year so that we can replace the lead service lines at a faster pace.”
Our goal is to replace all of these MLGW lead service lines within the next ten years.

President Collins talks about Memphis water.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

MLGW Warns of Spoofing Telephone Payment Scam

MLGW is warning customers about a new telephone payment scam involving caller ID spoofing and Green Dot cards. Thieves call demanding bill payment and spoof MLGW’s facility telephone numbers, so it appears the call originates from a MLGW Call Center. Some businesses reported their caller ID displayed the number for MLGW’s Brunswick Service Center, which is not responsible for payment processing. Crooks threaten to turn off utility service, telling small business owners and individuals to purchase a Green Dot card and to call 855-811-2107 to make an immediate payment. Calling that number, the recording sounds legitimate, but it’s a scam.

With advances in technology, scammers are becoming craftier. Customers are encouraged to stay vigilant. If something doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t.

Here are a few tips to remember:
  • MLGW representatives do not personally call customers requesting payment.
  • MLGW does mail cut-off notices to customers and uses auto-dialers alerting them that a payment must be made by a certain date to avoid cut-off.
  • MLGW representatives won’t tell you to purchase a prepaid or gift card to pay your bill.
When in doubt, check mlgw.com or call MLGW’s Customer Care Center at (901) 544-6549 to verify payment options or account status.

If you believe you have been targeted or victimized, immediately report it to the Memphis Police Department at (901) 545-2677.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

MLGW Explains EPA Requirements For Sample Testing

In an effort to determine if municipal water systems have an effective corrosion control program for potable water, EPA requires that water samples from 50 homes be analyzed by MLGW for lead and copper once every three years. Twenty-five (25) are to be homes with lead water service lines/plumbing. The other 25 are to be copper service lines with lead solder. The list of 50 is to be picked from a larger group of about 100 addresses. The same list of about 100 addresses is to be used each time, every three years. The group of about 100 addresses is called the pool of sites.

Water service lines include the utility owned water line between the water main and the water meter, and the privately owned line between the water meter and the house. Some homes even have lead plumbing within the home.

The purpose of this exercise is to see how well our corrosion control system is working. We have a list of 112 addresses that was established in 1992 when the regulations took effect. 57 of those addresses are designated as lead services. The other 55 are copper.

EPA regulations suggest several methods for coming up with this list including plumbing inspector records, age of construction, etc. My staff is confident that our list was established in accordance with EPA regulations. Verification of pipe material at these addresses does not require digging the line up to verify. In fact the EPA regulations recommend meter readers do any physical inspection.

The easiest way to do a physical inspection is to look in the meter vault and see what type pipe is going in and out of the meter vault. This year we looked at all of the original 57 addresses designated as lead. Physical inspection, primarily looking in the water meter vault, verified that at least 32 were lead. This does not mean that ONLY 32 were lead. Many times the service line pipe material changes between the meter and the water main or between the meter and the house. So how do you determine if a water service line is made of lead if you cannot physically see lead?

EPA states that you can also confirm the presence of a lead service line by results from analysis of the water. Since 1992 a total of 50 of the 57 “lead” addresses have tested positive for the presence of lead. So we know there is a lead pipe somewhere between the water main and the faucet.  Usually the amount of lead found is less than the EPA action level. In fact as long as less than 10 percent of the samples contain less than 15 parts per billion(ppb) lead, then the water system meets EPA criteria.

So what happens if the analysis of the samples finds more than 10 percent exceed 15 ppb lead? Typically when this happens EPA may require the water utility to undertake an effort to identify which homes have lead water lines throughout the entire service area, Initiate a program to eliminate lead water lines or improve the corrosion control efforts.

In the case of MLGW we already have a great corrosion control program. In addition we are already actively performing physical inspections of water service lines on a mass basis in order to try to identify what water service lines are made of. Finally we are already actively replacing MLGW’s lead service lines and intend to budget more money for this effort next year so that we can replace the lead service lines at a faster pace.

MLGW estimates that out of 254,000 homes and businesses in our service area that about 25,000 have lead service lines. Most of these homes are within the Parkways or just outside the Parkways. MLGW has an interactive map that although not 100% accurate provides information regarding where lead service lines may be located. Our goal is to replace all of these lead service lines within the next ten years.

MLGW offers free testing of anyone’s drinking water. If a customer has measureable concentrations of lead in their water, then we provide tips on how they can minimize exposure to lead in their drinking water.

MLGW is confident that we are in compliance with the letter and spirit of the EPA regulations. Our water is in fact the best drinking water in the country. 

You can find more information in our Water Quality reports. The Lead Service Database can be found here.


Friday, August 19, 2016

MLGW issues bonds at record low interest rates

Once, again, Memphis Light, Gas and Water bonds have been recognized by the market as an excellent investment.

After a process of several months to develop and approve the sale of bonds, MLGW issued $110 million in bonds on Aug. 16 with record low interest rates of 2.459 percent for each of the electric and gas divisions and 2.322 percent for water.
“I haven’t gone all the way back in MLGW’s history,” said MLGW Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Secretary-Treasurer Dana Jeanes, “but I sincerely believe this is the lowest cost of debt we’ve ever had.”
By MLGW’s charter, each division within the utility is financially independent in regards to issuing credit. As a result, Standard & Poor's and Moody’s Investors Service rating agencies assessed each credit separately.
The electric division was rated AA+ by the S&P 500 and Aa2 by Moody’s. Gas received AA- and Aa1 ratings, respectively. Water was assessed by the S&P 500 as AAA credit — the agency’s highest rating — and Aa1 by Moody’s.
Since the gas division had not issued any bonds since 1984 the rating agencies rated gas division bonds similar to a new credit. Nevertheless, the market viewed the bonds favorably, resulting in an identical interest rate as the electric division.

Funds from the bond issuance will be used in support of MLGW’s capital investment budget.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Smart Talk: Smart meter project progress and the opt-out process

Since May, MLGW has been installing smart meters as part of a five-year modernization of its metering infrastructure. It is by far the largest improvement project in the Division’s 77-year history. The return on investment for the project will be reaped in five to seven years. Operational and personnel savings achieved (gained through attrition — MLGW has NEVER had a layoff) will result in greater efficiencies and lower costs. More than 20,000 new meters have been installed since late spring of 2016 (all three services — electric, gas and water — are being replaced, but most of the installations have been electric). The convenience of faster connection and reconnection; the security of keeping their gates locked and the empowerment of knowing exactly how much their utility service will be BEFORE the end of the month are some of the benefits eagerly anticipated by customers. Many residents are looking forward to the upgrade which will allow Shelby County residents to enjoy the technological advancements citizens in other Tennessee cities like Chattanooga now experience. However, if a customer chooses to decline a smart meter they can opt-out.

The opt-out process guidelines are broad and the process simple. When you receive the 30-day installation notice, call 820-7878 and request the paperwork. The customer of record signs and sends it back. Now, like all viable businesses, there are some reasonable exceptions so a few people don’t take advantage:

(1) If in the last 24 months a customer has been found guilty of diversion (utility theft) or had a routinely inaccessible meter. Routinely is defined as four consecutive
months where MLGW’s ability to read the meter has been obstructed, resulting in an estimated bill, which can be vastly different from actual usage.
(2) If an MLGW employee has been attacked by a dog on a customer’s property or if Memphis Police department has been called to protect our employee.
Understand that in either scenario, after 12 months the clock starts over and the customer would be eligible to opt-out if their account is without incident.

MLGW is committed to doing what is in the best interest of all its customers. Providing service improvements when they are available and affordable is an important part of that commitment.
Full scale implementation of smart meters is a prime example of how MLGW plans to offer enhanced service and payment options that are affordable and readily available in the marketplace.
To learn more about smart meters, go to mlgw.com/smartgrid.
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