A Nashville stream turned into a murky mess over the weekend.
On Monday, Metro water officials tracked down the source of the problem to homeowners who were grading their yard.
The mud they created was traveling several blocks through an underground system that came out at a tributary to Richland Creek.
Jeff Recker, who lives near the creek, was troubled by what he saw.
"A plume of greenish-brown (water was) coming into Richland Creek," Recker said. "Richland Creek is a beautiful resource, and it made it look like a toxic-waste receptacle."
The mud suffocates the aquatic life that live in the stream, said Monette Rebecca of the Richland Creek Watershed Alliance.
"It deposits soil on top of the channel bottom where the critters live," said Rebecca.
The plants don't like it either, and once it gets into the city's drinking water supply, the Cumberland River, it's expensive to filter it out.
"There really is no need to point one person out. I can tell you when I went looking Saturday, there were five possibilities at least," Rebecca said.
"The (residents) had no idea what they were doing was affecting the creek or even could affect the creek," said Metro Water spokeswoman Sonia Harvat.
Metro says people dump all kinds of material into storm drains that shouldn't be there, including unused fertilizer, leftover cement, paint, everyday oil and grease from pavement runoff.
"Anything you do in your home or business affects our waters," Harvat said.
Metro officials want people to be more aware of the problem, so they're putting decals on storm drains that say, "No dumping, drains to the river."
"Let's all be aware that what goes in our storm drains goes in our streams and goes in our water supply," Rebecca said.
The homeowners whose dirt runoff accidentally caused the mud plume won't be fined. Metro officials said it's more important to educate people.
It's important to point out that once the water is filtered and treated, it is safe to drink.
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