One Austin, Texas, resident got an alarming surprise when he got a call from his wife saying the creek in their yard was “muddy and smelled funny.”
The Texan took to Reddit to share pictures of the concerning creek conundrum and captioned the post, “A bunch of construction waste dumped in our creek.”
“There is a construction project … that has pipes that feed directly into our creek. This is disgusting and probably illegal,” the original poster furiously added.
The pictures show how disgusting of a scene it was, with a gross gray sludge making its way through the shallow creek, covering rocks, plants, and wildlife.
Judging by comments on the post and the look of the sludge, it appears to be concrete washout, which results from construction workers spraying excess concrete off the trucks and other equipment.
While this material should be disposed of properly, companies and workers don’t always follow the proper protocols. When that happens, it creates a massive problem for the surrounding ecosystem.
According to the EPA, “Concrete washout water (or washwater) is a slurry containing toxic metals. It’s caustic and corrosive.” The EPA goes on to say that the pH level is almost the same as liquid Drano — definitely not something you want running through your creek, especially because it can “harm fish gills and eyes and interfere with reproduction.”
A report published by the National Library of Medicine shows that construction waste makes up between 10% to 30% of waste disposed of at landfills globally, while the construction industry produces about 35% of total waste to the environment.
But don’t fret, there are cleaner construction solutions that can possibly replace dirty concrete. One company’s sweet solution is making bricks — called Sugarcrete — out of a byproduct of sugarcane. Another alternative to concrete is straw bale construction, a method that dates back thousands of years.
Even if you’re not actively making decisions on what types of building materials are being used in your neighborhood, because not many of us are, you can still make a difference by getting involved in local climate action to prevent devastating messes like this in the future.
As for this “disgusting” situation, many commenters suggested reporting it to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). However, that organization has had its own pollution problems lately.
Other Redditors were enraged by the outrageously careless act.
“I hope these construction companies get huge fines for this,” remarked one commenter.
Another suggested another form of punishment, writing, “I think they should have to drink anything they put into the creek. Fines don’t ever seem to hit hard enough.”
While a third simply expressed, “Seeing that is infuriating.”
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