Trust runs thin as black water flows in Crystal City

Black water latest in string of Crystal City woes

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter , Robert Taylor - Web - News Editor

CRYSTAL CITY, Texas - Trust isn't running very deep in Crystal City at the moment, and now the water has been running black.

Residents in Crystal City took to social media Wednesday night to share pictures of dark-colored water running out of their taps. The city said it's sediment that was flushed into distribution lines when the tower was drained to be worked on.

The city is advising residents to boil their water and/or let it run before using it.

But an explanation for the water didn't appear on the city's Facebook page until Thursday morning, long after residents first noticed the problem.

"We didn't get a proper warning," resident Nora Flores-Guerrero said. "They didn't post anything or sent out any type of message to warn the residents. It was pretty scary."

Flores-Guerrero said her water just stank Wednesday night. She said others had much darker water.

"It looked like black sludge. They were comparing it to oil -- that dark," Flores-Guerrero said.

City Water/Wastewater Superintendent Carlos Ramirez said the tower hadn't been cleaned in 20 or 30 years. Asked why they didn't warn people ahead of time, Ramirez said they didn't know the sediment was going to get into distribution lines.

Ramirez said only part of Crystal City was affected and that the city has been opening fire hydrants to clear the pipes. He expected the water to be back to normal sometime Thursday.

Crystal City ISD let out early on Thursday "due to low water pressure," but the district prepared to deal with the water by bringing in bottled water and hand sanitizer, as well as 5-gallon jugs for the cafeterias.

Crystal City ISD Superintendent Imelda Allen said she first found out about the water issue Wednesday night when she was at her sister's house. Allen said her sister had been complaining about the smell, and when they put a pitcher under the faucet, the water came out murky.

Allen said she didn't hear anything from City Hall beforehand.

"It's certainly a concern, but I also knew that right now, there's not really anyone in charge to oversee and to make people aware of the condition of the water. So I wasn't going to wait for anyone to call me from City Hall. I know that leadership is not present at the time," Allen said.

Waiting by the school to pick up his fifth-grade daughter, parent Javier Rodriguez said, "If I had known, I probably would have left them home. I just found out this morning."

With all but one of the Crystal City council members under federal investigation, the city is in a state of uncertainty. Three members are being recalled, and Tuesday's council meeting ended with mayor's arrest. After he was released from jail on Thursday, Mayor Ricardo Lopez said he didn't plan on having anything to do with the City Council going forward.

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