Thick black water in Palm Springs

Officials say nothing is harmful in water runoff

Flood Sludge

Palm Springs, Calif. - The water in Tahquitz Creek, and in the Araby Wash in south Palm Springs is not so much flowing as it is oozing in some spots. The ash from the nearby Mountain Fire has turned the runoff water into a thick black sludge.

"It just looks really dirty," Robin Landsman said while looking at the water in Tahquitz Canyon. "And muddy and soapy."

"It smells horrible,"  Palm Springs resident Edward Ragland added. "Like mud and bacteria. Like a fungus. Like a mildew smell."

"It doesn't smell good," Landsman said. "And it doesn't look good."

Residents of Araby Cove in South Palm Springs have been driving through the muddy water in the Araby Wash to reach their homes. This, after days of living with smoke and ash from the Mountain Fire.

"It was like being in jail," Araby Cove Neighborhood Association Chairperson, Kerstin B. Pollack said. "It was like going from paradise to hell. It was really absolutely awful. Something that I have never experienced in my life."

While the sludge may stick around for a while, the Coachella Valley Water District says people should not be concerned.

"What we're seeing in that water is just natural organic material that's making it that dark color," Heather Engel from the CV Water District said. "At this time, we have no information to indicate that there's anything harmful in the water."

Water district officials say it's not unusual for ash and soot to come down the mountain after a burn. They say the quality of the water will not be affected.

"When that water seeps or percolates into the ground it goes through several layers of sand and silt and gravel," Engel said. "It creates a natural filtration process that leaves the sediment on top of the soil."

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