Tap Water Turns Black in Texas Town Embroiled in Scandal

Angry residents say they were not alerted in a timely fashion when water tank was drained.

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Crystal City, Texas — a city that found itself in the headlines earlier this month when top officials were arrested for bribery — suddenly has another problem on its hands: dark, smelly tap water.

Concerned citizens took to social media Feb. 17 to share pictures of dark-colored water running out of their taps. “It looked like black sludge,” resident Nora Flores-Guerrero told KSAT. “They were comparing it to oil — that dark.”


CNN said the problem occurred when an elevated water tank was drained for the first time in decades. Chris Jimenez, administrative assistant with the utilities department, told the San Antonio Express-News the process sent rust and sediment into the city’s water system.

Residents discovered the water-quality issue on Feb. 17, but the city waited until the following day to issue a boil-water advisory. “We didn’t get a proper warning,” Flores-Guerrero said. “They didn’t post anything or send out any type of message to warn the residents. It was pretty scary.”

All but one top official in the city of about 7,500 is facing some kind of criminal charge, reports the Washington Post. The mayor, mayor pro tempore, a council member and the city manager were arrested Feb. 4 on felony bribery and conspiracy charges. A councilman was indicted Jan. 27 on unrelated federal charges of smuggling undocumented immigrants.

“Right now, there’s not really anyone in charge to oversee and to make people aware of the condition of the water,” Imelda Allen told KSAT.

The city began opening hydrants to flush the system on Feb. 18. By the time the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality tested water at five sites, the water was clear, reports KSAT. The agency also said chlorine residuals and water pressure measurements they took that day were within regulations. The TCEQ advised residents to continue boiling water as they waited for more test results.



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