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Red Dye Study will Temporarily Discolor the Des Plaines River near Lemont
Released: 11/14/2011 1:19:34 PM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
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Douglas Yeskis 1-click interview
Phone: 217-328-9706

Robert Kay 1-click interview
Phone: 630-940-6988

A harmless red dye will temporarily discolor the Des Plaines River near Lemont, Ill., for scientific research purposes starting on Nov. 15.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists will be performing a dye test in the Des Plaines River and the nearby Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) between Route 83 and the Lockport area during the week of Nov. 14, giving the water a reddish tint until approximately Nov. 17. The study will determine locations where water from the Des Plaines River may be moving into the CSSC, and is part of a larger study on the potential for Asian carp eggs or larval and other invasive species to migrate from the Des Plaines River to Lake Michigan. 

"Experience with invasive species in the past has shown that their populations can expand rapidly at the expense of native species once they obtain access to new, favorable habitat," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "The Great Lakes fisheries are a $7 billion industry annually that is at risk."

By using low, non-hazardous concentrations of dye, USGS scientists can identify the exact areas, if any, where openings in the bedrock are large enough for invasive carp eggs and other invasives to migrate through and enter the CSSC, giving them a direct pathway into Lake Michigan. 

"Asian carp can be destructive to native ecosystems because they compete with native fish for food, and this study will inform strategies to prevent their migration into Lake Michigan," said Doug Yeskis, director of the USGS Illinois Water Science Center.

USGS scientists will begin setting up the equipment on Nov. 14, and the red dye will be injected along the bank of the Des Plaines River near Route 83 on Nov. 15. The scientists will monitor the movement of water between the Des Plaines River and the CSSC from Nov. 15-18. If dye movement is not complete by this time, the USGS will continue monitoring it until it has moved through the study area.

The dye will be monitored using fluorometers, which are instruments that detect the presence and concentration of dye. USGS scientists will monitor using fluorometers on the Des Plaines River and the CSSC between Route 83 and their point of convergence. The dye will also be monitored from boats that will traverse this area and in wells installed between the Des Plaines River and the CSSC near Lemont Road. 

This dye injection study is part of the Interbasin Transfer Project funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

For more information about water resources in Illinois, visit the USGS Illinois Water Science Center website.

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