Not so crystal clear: Texas town taps run black, old water tower blamed
Thick, dark sludge began coming out of the city's taps on Wednesday evening, causing concern and frustration among some 7,000 residents of the community located some 30 miles (48 km) from the Mexican border.
Municipal authorities have advised residents to run and boil water before use, and blamed the tap trouble on the city's aging water tower.
Renovations to the town's elevated water tank "caused all sediments and deposits sitting on lower portion of tank (sic) to run through distribution lines," the city said Thursday on its official Facebook page.
The state's environmental regulator "has advised the city to open fire hydrants in order to fully flush tank (sic) and minimize residential distribution," city authorities added.
Due to the water issues, the Crystal City Independent School District released students early on Thursday.
On Friday, the city announced that cases of water were being delivered to the town's elderly residents, adding that drinkable water would be made available to everyone.
"This afternoon all Crystal CIty residents call (sic) come to pick up a case of water and we will have potable water available, as well as drinkable water for residents to fill their jugs," the city posted on Facebook.
Meanwhile, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said that Crystal City "has no current maximum contaminant level violations and is currently in compliance with the primary drinking water standards," KENS reported late Thursday.
Residents have taken to social media to complain that the city failed to give proper notice of the water tower issues.
"They didn't post anything or sent out any type of message to warn the residents. It was pretty scary," resident Nora Flores Guerrero told KSAT. She added that the water "looked like black sludge" and came from the tap on Wednesday evening with a heavy stench.
Crystal City's water superintendent told KSAT the tower had not been cleaned in decades, and that the city didn't warn residents because no one knew that sediment would flush out through the distribution lines.
By Friday, the city's water crisis has attracted national attention, including consumer activist Erin Brockovich.
Crystal City's s water woes come just weeks after the FBI arrested the mayor and all but one councilman on charges of taking kickbacks in exchange for doling out city contracts. Another councilman was arrested earlier for smuggling migrants across the border from Mexico.
Known as the "spinach capital of the world," after the area's main agricultural crop, Crystal City also served as the largest internment camp for American civilians of Japanese, German and Italian extraction during World War II.