Black Water Flows in 'Corrupt' Texas Town
Crystal City residents shocked by 'black sludge'
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2016 5:00 PM CST
In this photo taken Tuesday, Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez, in suit, argues with a citizen as he leaves a city council meeting in Crystal City, Texas.   (Kin Man Hui /The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

(Newser) – A Texas town where nearly every top official was arrested earlier this month has a new problem: Its tap water just turned black and smelly, CNN reports. Residents of Crystal City—a municipality of 7,500 near the Mexican border—saw the liquid emerge from taps on Wednesday. "It looked like black sludge," a resident tells 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." The city says it happened because a raised water tank was emptied and flushed out, causing "all sediments and deposits sitting on [the] lower portion of [the] tank to run through distribution lines," per a press release. Recently hired water official Carlos Ramirez says the tank hadn't been cleaned in 20 to 25 years.

"The previous administrations neglected it," Ramirez says. "We had to clean their mess." Ramirez says the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (which shipped bottled water into Crystal City) declared the water safe Saturday, but a TCEQ rep sees it differently. "We would like to wait until we have the complete suite of sample results back until we can give the all-clear," she says. "We may have these as soon as Tuesday." Worse, the FBI already arrested most of Crystal City's senior officials for allegedly accepting kickbacks and bribes. "Right now, there's not really anyone in charge to oversee and to make people aware of the condition of the water," says a school official. Residents are being advised to use bottled water or boil tap water for at least two minutes, the San Antonio Express-News reports. (Investigators of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., say manslaughter charges are possible.)