Venezuela's power grid troubles continue, and now, according to videos appearing on social media, citizens in one state of the poverty ravaged country are experiencing new troubles: tap water contaminated with what looks like crude oil.
The Daily Mail reports that "Venezuelans have woken up to find their tap water running black" in the country's state of Carabobo, and black-tinged water is running out of faucets and sitting in toilets and bathtubs.
The water supply, the outlet reports, has been intermittent "for months," and was nearly non-existent this past week as the country struggled with blackouts — the result of a "catastrophic failure" at one of the country's largest hydroelectric plants, which had a domino effect on the country's power grid.
When the water returned yesterday, residents were shocked to find that it appeared to be contaminated with crude oil, turning the water black and viscous, and rendering it unsafe to consume.
Venezuela is one of the world's foremost crude oil producers and extractors, but a crumbling infrastructure — the result of years of mismanagement by the country's socialist government — has made the supply impossible to control. Now, it seems, infrastructure problems are running together, as the state's water system and electrical grid failures coincide.
While most Venezuelans aren't suffering from such clearly contaminated water, almost all Venezuelans are struggling to live without power, as the electrical grid system failure drags on into its second week. France24 reports that blackouts are easing in some areas — and countries like China are now offering to help Venezuela make quick repairs — but the grid itself may be beyond salvaging.
WIRED, which did a deep dive into Venezuela's tortured infrastructure, notes that the system is suffering not just from a catastrophic failure at the country's Guri Dam, which supplies around 80% of the country's power, but from years of neglect and mismanagement which make restarting the hydroelectric system particularly difficult.
In order to launch a so-called "black-start" — a complete system reboot — Venezuela would need experts on the ground who are familiar with the full electric grid system and who could not only provide a power surge to kick on the generator, but could manage a system-wide "load re-balance" once a new flood of electricity enters the system. If the system has flaws, and engineers aren't paying close attention, they could actually make the situation worse, exploding parts of the grid and burning up gear.
In short, Venezuela just doesn't have the manpower or the expertise to restore power to its failing system.
That could explain why, instead of dispatching crews to fix the problem, France24 reports that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro is dispatching prosecutors to find and charge opposition leader Juan Guaido with sabotaging the country's grid system by causing a major explosion at the Guiado dam. Maduro claims Guiado is the chief operative in a "cyberattack" by the United States that caused Venezuela's electrical grid to collapse completely.