What was causing the discoloration of JeffCo creek water?

Bright red liquid flowing into creek

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - People in West Jefferson County are trying to figure out what caused a stream to turn purple earlier this week.

Black Warrior Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke was also surprised when he saw pictures of the water.

“Whoa, what the heck is that?” he said “What’s going on out there? What is the nature of the discharge?"

Brooke tested the apparent runoff stream Wednesday, collecting samples and taking pictures.

“We researched into the permit what they say they do, what they say use, what they don’t use,” said Brooke.

“They” are a coal mine on Alliance Road in Western Jefferson County, which Brook believes is the source of the runoff.

On Wednesday, the water was no longer that purplish color, instead a dark hazy orange.

“That’s pretty typical of what we see coming out of coal mines. It’s indicative of excess iron in the discharge,” said Brooke.

What caused any of the discoloration, Brooke hopes the lab results will tell him. As for whether this stands to be any danger to humans or animals, that is also still to be determined.

The water does appear to flow into Coal Creek, which is a tributary to the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River.

"A very commonly used river for fishing, for recreation, there is drinking water intakes down the river,” said Brooke.

We reached out to the mining company for comment. As of Wednesday afternoon, we have not heard back from them.

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