Housatonic River may turn reddish for awhile

A study over the next two weeks of how wastewater affects oysters growing in the Housatonic River and Long Island Sound will include use of a dye that will briefly turn a portion of the river reddish.

Officials from the state Department of Agriculture are advising residents that the process is harmless.

The study, being conducted from May 8 to 17, will track the flow and dispersion of wastewater discharging into the Housatonic River and Long Island Sound from Stratford and Milford’s Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) facilities on the Housatonic.

Dye to be released May 7 and 8

On the evening of May 7, dye will be released from the Stratford WPCA plant and will continue for 12 hours until about 9:30 a.m. on May 8.

The second dye injection, at the Milford Housatonic WPCA facility, will begin early on May 14 and continue through midday.

River water may appear reddish

Portions of the lower Housatonic River visible from the shores of Stratford and Milford may turn reddish in color for a brief time. The dye — called Rhodamine WT — is not harmful to people or the ecosystem, state officials said.

“The Housatonic is one of Connecticut’s most important natural oyster-producing areas,” Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said.

“This study will evaluate the impact of wastewater discharges on shellfish growing in the river and will help determine where they can be safely harvested,” Reviczky said.

Expanding oyster cultivation

The goal of the project is to expand oyster growth and cultivation in the river while protecting public health and oyster habitat through science-based management practices.

The study is part of an ongoing oyster resource-enhancement project developed by Department of Agriculture Director David Carey and other staff.

Scientists and engineers from state Agriculture Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s New England Regional Laboratory, and staff from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Shellfish Sanitation Program, will conduct the study.