City releasing red dye into Mission Bay to study water circulation

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SAN DIEGO — Nontoxic red dye could be visible in Mission Bay for about a week as the city studies water circulation.

The City of San Diego plans to release the fluorescent red dye into Mission Bay Friday as part of a larger environmental project. Data gained from the release will help the city design future water quality improvements and ecological restoration projects at the bay, the city said in a Thursday news release.

The dye is made of rhodamine and is safe for use in drinking water and salt water, according to the city. It will be released into the Rose Creek inlet to the bay from the Mike Gotch Memorial Pedestrian Bridge between Campland on the Bay and De Anza Cove.

The city said the dye, which will be absorbed into the bay, is not expected to leave residue on beaches or have any other long-term effects. Public use of Mission Bay will continue during and following the dye release, and visitors can continue water recreation activities during the study. 

The water circulation study is part of the city’s Northeast Mission Bay Wetland Restoration Supplement Environmental Project. It will provide data about the dispersion of contaminants that enter Mission Bay from Rose Creek, the city said.

“We want to assure the public that even though the red dye may be visible at first, it is completely safe and won’t have any long-term effects on the environment,” said Keli Balo, assistant deputy director of the city’s Public Utilities Department. “The water circulation data we collect will help us improve Mission Bay and give us a tool to protect it for future generations of San Diegans.”

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