Crystal City, Texas is facing a water emergency just days after several city officials, including the mayor and city manager, were arrested on federal corruption charges. On Wednesday morning, residents of the small Texas town reported black water gushing unexpectedly when they turned on their faucets.
“It smelled as soon as I turned on the water we were getting ready for showers and I smelled it and then I started getting the text from my friends ‘hey is this happening at your house look what’s going on at mine,” resident Nora Flores-Guerrero told Fox San Antonio.
The superintendent of Crystal City’s water department, Carlos Ramirez, is blaming the black water on dirt and mud built up in the system through the years. Last week, the water tower was completely flushed out in anticipation of a major renovation.
Ramirez took over the water department less than a year ago and had no idea there was so much dirt inside the water tower. He stated that the previous manager failed to maintain the system properly and the last time it was cleaned was sometime in the mid-1990s.
Flores-Guerrero described the black water and criticized the city for not issuing a notice to residents about flushing the system.
“It looked like black sludge. They were comparing it to oil — that dark. 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.”
Fire hydrants were opened on Thursday to help drain some of the black water. Although the school system was supplied with bottled water, the district dismissed students early due to low water pressure. Classes are expected to resume on Monday.
Another black water incident was reported last year by some residents in California. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, fracking is suspected to have caused “black sludge” and other gunk to pour out of the tap for one family in Gardena.
Andrea Morrow with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced a pending investigation of the black water in Texas. The agency is testing for contaminants and recommends residents boil the water before using.
“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. We may have these as soon as Tuesday. In the meantime, we would still urge residents not to drink discolored water, and to boil city water before drinking it.”
Ramierez disagrees, saying the city tested the water and determined it was safe to drink as of Saturday morning.
However, with recent events, the 7,500 residents of Crystal City, Texas, have another reason not to trust any city official’s opinion. While the population does not doubt the city has dirty water, the federal government believes it has dirty politicians as well.
According to a federal indictment, Crystal City leaders are being charged with accepting bribes from contractors as well as assisting an illegal gambling operation. Additionally, Councilman Margo Rodriguez allegedly helped Mexican immigrants sneak into the U.S.
Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez resigned from office on Friday afternoon. Just days before, he was arrested during a City Council meeting after getting into an altercation with an upset resident. The meeting was to discuss a recall vote for Lopez and two City Council members.
Volunteers from neighboring communities handed out bottled water on Friday. The only City Council member not facing criminal charges, Joel Barajas, is grateful to all the people willing to help out during this crisis.
“There are caring people in Southwest Texas,” said Barajas, who is now in charge of all of the city’s departments.
Crystal City, Texas is known as “The Spinach Capital of the World” for its annual spinach festival and its statue of Popeye the Sailor outside City Hall. Despite the problems the city is currently facing, it is possible they could take on another reputation that involves dirty politicians and black water in Texas.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]