Residents of Crystal City, Texas were up in arms after black, foul-smelling liquid began pouring out of their faucets last week.
“It looked like black sludge. They were comparing it to oil — that dark,” resident Nora Flores-Guerrero explained to KSAT. “We didn’t get a proper warning. They didn’t post anything or send out any type of message to warn the residents. It was pretty scary.”
City officials say that the sludge came after they drained the town’s elevated water tank for the first time in decades. Because it was not cleaned properly for so long, a large amount of built-up sediment from the bottom of the tank made its way into the water supply.
This revelation of neglect comes just weeks after most city officials were arrested on corruption charges by the FBI. The city’s new water superintendent says he had no idea just how bad the buildup inside the tank was until they began cleaning it.
“When we were draining the tanks, we didn’t know what was inside,” he explained. “It hadn’t been cleaned in 20 to 25 years. The previous administrations neglected it. We had to clean their mess.”
The Texas Commission on Environment Quality immediately brought in pallets of bottled water for residents to use while they investigated the incident. Although it’s been nearly a week since the sludge first appeared, the commission is still unsure if the water is completely safe to drink.
“While the most recent samples testing for water pressure, chlorination, and bacteria have come back in the acceptable range, we would like to wait until we have the complete suite of sample results back until we can give the all-clear,” The committee’s media relations manager, Andrea Morrow, told CNN. “We would still urge residents not to drink discolored water, and to boil city water before drinking it.”