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Department of Ecology using dye to study Little Spokane River | Environment

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Department of Ecology using dye to study Little Spokane River
Environment, News

Scientists from the Washington Department of Ecology will be using a fluorescent dye to track water flow in the Little Spokane River as part of a study on the dissolved oxygen and pH in the water. Currently, the river does not meet quality standards in those areas which endangers fish and other aquatic life.


“This study is part of our effort to understand the causes of low dissolved oxygen and high pH in the stream,” said Elaine Snouwaert, who is coordinating Ecology's water quality improvements plans for the Little Spokane.


Nutrients and sunlight levels contribute to the excessive weed and algae growth that causes dissolved oxygen and pH problems, and low water flow levels can make these problems worse. Researchers will track the dye plume with an instrument that is able to detect the dye in the water.


“If residents see a reddish fluorescent tint in the creek during either the week of August 5th or August 12th, they needn't worry,” explained Scott Tarbutton, and environmental scientist. “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 that we use.”


The Little Spokane River also fails water quality standards for bacteria, temperature and turbidity. Because of this, Ecology published a draft plan in 2012 that was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2012.  

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