Latah Creek may run red later this month as scientists from the Washington Department of Ecology use fluorescent dye to learn how fast water moves through the creek as part of a broader effort to improve water quality.
Use of the harmless dye is meant to show how low summertime flows affect oxygen and water acidity levels in different areas of the creek, according to the department. Data from the test will be used in computer models to help diagnose water quality problems; Latah Creek and its tributaries violate water quality standards for dissolved oxygen, pH, bacteria, temperature and turbidity levels.
Low flows exacerbate excessive weed and algae growth that can impair oxygen and pH levels, according to Ecology.
“Using dye for this type of study is very common, and research has long shown that the dye does not affect human health or aquatic life in any way at the low concentrations we use,” Joe Joy, an environmental scientist for the department, said in a news release.
Dying is planned for the weeks of June 15 and July 13.