Don’t worry if you see red water running out of the mouth of Chambers Creek later this month, the State Department of Health says.
It’s only a test.
The Health Department and scientists from federal, tribal, state and local agencies will be testing the water around Tacoma and Blaine, in Whatcom County, to find places where wastewater may affect shellfish, making them unsafe to eat.
Red dye will be added to treated wastewater in Blaine on Nov. 4 and at Chambers Creek on Nov. 11.
Red dye in the treated wastewater will likely be visible during the first day of each testing period, the state says. The dye is not harmful to people, marine life or the environment, according to the Health Department.
The first area to be studied is outside Drayton Harbor at Blaine. Scientists from the Health Department and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are putting cages of oysters in various locations around the treatment plant. The red dye will be added to Blaine’s treated wastewater Sunday night, and scientists will track where it goes.
The City of Blaine, the Lummi Department of Natural Resources, and the Northwest Indian College are assisting with the Blaine study.
The Tacoma study, scheduled for November 10-15, will not include testing for bacteria and viruses. That study is part of an EPA-funded grant to evaluate the potential for locating commercial shellfish beds near the Chambers Creek and Joint Base Lewis-McChord wastewater plants.
Pierce County Public Works, the Nisqually Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Ecology are helping with the Pierce County study.