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MLGW News Release
 
Old Records Could Indicate Lead Service Line Locations
May 18, 2016

Oldest record is from 1874

Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division discovered a 16-year-old database of early water service line records in its archives this week. The records indicate the possible location and composition of some water service lines.

Out of approximately 288,000 water service line records included in the database, there were 38,275 records of service lines possibly made of lead, that were installed between 1874 and 1940. As a reference, MLGW was established in 1939.

According to the database, 3,029 of the 38,275 records were for lines installed before 1900. The 38,275 records have addresses that are mostly within or in the vicinity of the Parkways, which are some of the oldest areas in Memphis.

Reports of lead contamination issues in Flint, Michigan have raised concerns about water quality. In sharp contrast to Flint, MLGW has an excellent drinking water corrosion control process. As a result, MLGW’s outstanding artesian well water has consistently met EPA drinking water standards.

The water service line database will aid MLGW’s continued commitment to water quality; however, the database, given the age of its records, appears to contain numerous inaccuracies and omits some addresses where it is possible that lead service lines exist. There could be homes that once had lead service lines but those lines have been replaced, or are vacant lots where homes once stood, or instances where the material noted for the service line was incorrectly stated on the original record in the archive.

The obvious errors will be corrected between now and next week, allowing MLGW to post a database of possible lead service line records on mlgw.com next week. A map of the addresses listed on those records will also accompany the database. Customers will be able to see if a record exists for their address.

Other errors will be corrected, over time, as MLGW begins field inspections to verify the recorded material used for its service lines. The inspections will start later this year and be completed by 2020. The data correction process will cause the stated number of homes that have lead service lines to fluctuate on a daily basis.

Lead paint is the overwhelming cause of lead exposure in Memphis and across the country. MLGW officials are aware of no evidence linking lead poisoning with MLGW’s drinking water. Memphis is fortunate to have the best quality drinking water in the country. MLGW provides free water sample testing. Customers can either call 544-6549 to request a water test or send an email to waterlab@mlgw.org and include their name and telephone number.

Our annual Water Quality Reports are online at http://www.mlgw.com/about/waterqualityreport. More information about lead is available at https://www.epa.gov/lead.