Lacamas Creek turns bright red for research

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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If you saw the Lacamas Creek running red earlier this week, it wasn't pollution. It was research in action.

State Department of Ecology researchers released a fluorescent dye into the water system to get a better sense of how the stream behaves. The dye won't be released again, but related research will continue on the creek this week, according to the ecology department.

The dye — harmless to humans, fish or other wildlife, according to state officials — allows researchers to track water speed and flow by measuring the concentration of the dye plume in different parts of the creek.

Researchers hope to learn more about Lacamas Creek’s water quality problems through the measurements. The creek falls below water quality standards on numerous fronts, including fecal coliform bacteria, temperature, oxygen levels and being too acidic in different locations, according to state officials. The creek flows into Lacamas Lake.