Washington State Department of Ecology - September 4, 2013


Three Cowlitz County creeks to turn red for salmon

OLYMPIA – Weather permitting, scientists from the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will release a harmless red-orange, fluorescent dye into Germany, Mill and Abernathy creeks, west of Longview, sometime during the weeks of September 9 and 16.

The dye helps state researchers measure the speed of water through a section of a stream. It dissipates quickly. Researchers will track the dye plume as it moves downstream, and calculate how long it takes for water to travel through different stream sections.

At the low concentrations used for the study, the dye doesn’t affect humans, fish or wildlife.  The effort is funded by the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

"We call these ‘time-of-travel’ studies. These studies are important because they are used to help determine whether actions to restore salmon habitat are working," said Stephanie Estrella, a scientist with Ecology’s Environmental Assessment Program, who will be conducting the work.

The creeks are tributaries to the Lower Columbia River. They receive intensive monitoring as part of several experimental, watershed-scale evaluations to help environmental scientists better understand how salmon and trout respond to the latest approaches to restore habitat. These improvements include adding shade, woody debris and protecting natural streamside areas.

Ecology has received permission to access the sampling sites.

Researchers will track the dye plume with fluorometers that measure dye concentration in the water. Tracking the speed of the dye from upstream to downstream helps researchers calculate how long it takes for water to travel through that section of stream. The information will be incorporated into calculations so scientists better understand the creek’s overall water quality.


Media Contact:

Linda Kent, 360-407-6239 desk, 360-791-9830 mobile, linda.kent@ecy.wa.gov

For more information:

Ecology's Environmental Assessment program (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/index.html)

Intensively Monitored Watersheds (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/imw/index.html)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)