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 might affect shellfish, making them unsafe to eat.
Red dye will be added to treated wastewater in Blaine on Sunday and at Chambers Creek on Nov. 11.
The dye likely will be visible during the first day of each testing period, state officials said. 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 federal Food and Drug Administration are putting cages of oysters in various locations around the treatment plant. Once the red dye is added to Blaine’s treated wastewater, scientists will track where it goes.
The City of Blaine, the Lummi Department of Natural Resources and Northwest Indian College are helping with the Blaine study.
The Tacoma study, scheduled for Nov. 10 to Nov. 15, will not include testing for bacteria and viruses. That study is being done under a grant funded by the federal Environmental Protection Agency 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 state Department of Ecology are helping with the Pierce County study.Rob Carson: 253-597-8693 rob.carson@ thenewstribune.com