Parts of the Delaware Bay Are Red. But Why?

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Parts of the Delaware Bay were dyed red on Wednesday morning, thanks to a study by the New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Ultimately, the study could mean the possibility of more local shellfish to harvest and eat.

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Members of the NJ DEP and FDA hopped on boats and got to work conducting a survey in Stow Creek on the morning of Wednesday, April 11th.

“We have restricted waters in the northern part of the bay," said Bob Schuster, bureau chief with Bureau Marine Water Monitoring at the NJDEP. "Recently, we’ve seen water quality improving in the offshore portions. But we know we have inshore contributions of bacterial from wildlife and various sources during runoff conditions.”

They want to increase the classification lines, which would mean more areas for people to go and harvest shellfish right in South Jersey.

“We’re looking at a few thousand acres potentially, that’s what this dye study is being done for, to see where we can open up and where we should not open up depending on the dilution of what’s coming out of those tributaries,” said Schuster.

The red nontoxic dye mimics sources of pollution and helps officials to better understand dilution.

“If we have wildlife source of bacteria, we want to know how much it dilutes as it goes out into the bay so we know where to look at our criteria and where we can put those lines,” said Schuster.

So, the bright red dye was injected into parts of Stow Creek for 12 hours. With the dye injections finished, the work is just getting started.

“What we’ll be taking place tomorrow and on Friday will be the gathering of the equipment and more use of the fluorometers to monitor [the] concentration of where the dye could potentially be in the bay,” said Schuster.

From here the FDA will go through the data and give the DEP the dilution numbers to see just what areas are in the clear.

“We have 78-percent of our waters are classified as year-round approved," said Schuster. "So anytime we see an opportunity to where water quality is improving, where we can do an upgrade and increase that number it’s a very positive note overall for the condition of water quality for New Jersey.”

Giving South Jersey boaters and shellfish lovers a lot to look forward to.

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