CHEROKEE, N.C. — Discharge flowing back into the Oconaluftee River remains cloudy after low oxygen levels killed bacteria needed to process sewage at the Cherokee Wastewater Treatment Plant, according to the Smoky Mountain News.

It’s unclear at this point as to what killed the bacteria, but initial reports suggest that it had something to do with the 8 tons of sand employees removed around the time the bacteria crashed, stated the article.

Because the water is gray and not clear, workers did not notice that the water was only 18-inches deep when it should have been 8-feet deep.

Once the sand was removed, three of the four waste processing units died, leading plant workers to believe that something in the sand poisoned the bacteria, noted the article.

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