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MLGW News Release
 
MLGW shuts down water pump to ensure water quality
January 16, 2009
(January 16, 2009) - Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division water quality testing revealed - for the first time - trace amounts of Benzene and other compounds in tap water that originated from the Allen Water Pumping Station. While the trace levels are far below those which require reporting under Federal regulations, three wells were immediately taken out of service as a precautionary measure. One of these wells was identified as the primary source of the compounds and will no longer be used to supply drinking water to the public.

MLGW, whose quality standards far exceed state and federal guidelines, took extra steps because Benzene previously had not been at a detectable level in Allen Station's tap water. To date, none of the other nine MLGW pumping stations has shown any level of Benzene in their tap water samples.

MLGW water exceeds federal safe drinking water standards, but for the foreseeable future, MLGW will conduct weekly tests to ensure that there are no detectable levels of Benzene and other volatile organic compounds in tap water. Tap water has traditionally been tested once a year for volatile organic compounds; other tests are conducted daily.

Water Quality Assurance Laboratory experts detected the compounds in tap water originating from the since-deactivated well at Allen Station in December. Although no federal reporting is required in connection with this finding, MLGW officials felt that customers should be notified and informed.

The Allen Water Pumping Station is located at 709 East Dison Ave. and serves customers in surrounding communities. Allen Station's well field consists of 21 wells, including the deactivated wells. Water supply and service has not been adversely affected by the deactivations.

MLGW has more than 170 drilled wells in Shelby County. These wells tap into the Memphis Sands and Fort Pillow aquifers, subterranean resources that contain more than 100 trillion gallons of naturally-filtered water. As part of the treatment process, MLGW adds fluoride (which prevents tooth decay), sodium hypochlorite (which kills bacteria) and phosphate (which inhibits corrosion) to water as required by local, state and federal regulations.

MLGW publishes annual Water Quality reports, which can be accessed at www.mlgw.com. Customers with concerns about water quality should call the Water Quality Report hotline at (901) 320-3950.

MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 420,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County.



Q & A: Allen Water Pumping Station

Q: What has happened with the water at the Allen Water Pumping Station?
A: Minute amounts of compounds including Benzene, a substance found in a natural part of crude oil and gasoline, were found in tap water originating from MLGW's Allen Water Pumping Station. As a precaution, three wells have been taken out of service. One well was identified as the primary source of the compounds and will no longer be used to supply drinking water to the public. To date, none of the other nine MLGW pumping stations has shown any level of Benzene in their tap water samples.

Q: Is the water supply safe?
A: MLGW water exceeds all federal safety drinking water standards. There was never any danger to the water supply. MLGW wanted to notify our customers that a minor issue had been discovered and what actions the utility is taking to ensure their water maintains the quality to which customers and MLGW are accustomed. In fact, the concentration of Benzene in the tap water is 263 times less than the federal safe drinking water limit.

Q: What is Benzene?
A: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "Benzene is widely used in the United States. It ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume. Some industries use benzene to make other chemicals that are used to make plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers. Benzene is also used to make some types of lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides."

Q: How much Benzene was found?
A: The amount of Benzene found in the tap water was 0.019 parts per billion. According to government guidelines, amounts over 5.0 parts per billion must be reported.

Q: Is the water from the Allen Pumping Station sent throughout the city?
A: No. Customers receive water from the pumping station that is closest to them. The water from the Allen Water Pumping Station is distributed to customers near the station.

Q: How often is the water tested?
A: MLGW goes above and beyond federal guidelines for water safety. Some quality tests are run daily to ensure there are no immediate pollutants in the water supply. Finished water is tested once a year for volatile organic compounds such as Benzene. Regularly scheduled tests completed in the fall showed no detectable Benzene at the wells.

Q: What will MLGW do to ensure that the water quality at the Allen Water Pumping Station remains reliable?
A: For the foreseeable future, MLGW will perform weekly tests to ensure that there are no detectable levels of Benzene or other volatile organic compounds in the tap water.

Q: What is the cost and will it lead to a rate increase?
A: The cost to test the wells is nominal and will not impact MLGW rates.

Q: What should I do if I suspect any changes in my water's taste, smell or look?
A: Contact MLGW's Water Quality Hotline at 320-3950.