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'We’re sounding the alarm' | Former MLGW employee calling for more accountability for the utility

Winter 2022 came bringing below-freezing temperatures and causing hundreds of customers to lose access to running or usable water and power.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —

MLGW said Wednesday it is working to end the boil water advisory and fix busted pipes. But watchdog organization "21st Century or Bust" is calling for more concrete solutions after the recent winter storm.  

The organization was formed in February of 2022 after the paralyzing ice storm that left more than half of all MLGW customers without electricity, or heat. 

As we are still at the very beginning of winter, 21st Century or Bust representative Glenda Hicks said proposed oversight and increased funding are long overdue. 

Hicks, who worked at MLGW for nearly 20 years, said updating infrastructure is a given, but right now the utility needs to also update how they communicate with and prepare customers.

“We’re sounding the alarm," Hicks said. "You know, it’s like we’re just days into winter and here we are."

Mother nature's latest round of weather once again highlighted the Utility's infrastructure issues.

Hicks said while temperatures aren’t always predictable, Memphis’ infrastructure is.

“They did not necessarily know that tempts were going to plummet where they did," Hicks said. "But you know that you have aging material all over and you know that winter is coming."

And winter came and brought below-freezing temperatures and caused hundreds of customers to lose access to running or usable water and some to even lose power.

“We’re just in a reactive mode," Hicks said. "Everything that happens and I'm like where’s the forethought, why, especially given what happened in February." 

In February of 2022 after an ice storm crippled the mid-south much of Memphis was once again without power and now in less than a year and as state representatives on both sides call for more funding and accountability for the utility repairs are once more the focus of state and city leadership's discussions.

“Seeing where the resources are needed, where, you know, they are depleted of resources," state representative Antonio Parkinson said. "Where we can short up things, where we can repair things, where we can apply state funding." 

Hicks said repairs are obvious but it starts with more proactive communication.

“Funding to improve infrastructure, I think, is paramount," Hicks said. "The issue of communication, that’s a local thing. That's something Light, Gas and Water needs to get a handle on. Certainly to alert me prior and allow me to have the opportunity to make some adjustments.”  

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