PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -- The water’s red in the Puget Sound near DuPont, and that could be a good thing for geoduck harvesters.
The state Department of Health is injecting red dye into the treated water at the wastewater plant at Joint Base Lewis McChord to see if geoduck harvesting restrictions can be lifted around the base.
If the water flows well out of the area shellfish restrictions could be lifted.
The state has traditionally banned shellfish harvesting around wastewater plants.
“Shellfish are filter feeders and they’ll filter out things in the water such as viruses and pathogens. We don’t want people eating shellfish contaminated with that,” said Jule Schultz, a Department of Health Public Health advisor.
An estimated million pounds of geoducks live in the area around JBLM.
Based on early results with the dye, Mark Toy, the environmental engineer heading up the project, said he expects some of the restrictions to be lifted.
The study, funded by an EPA grant, could take up to five years.
“We’re very conservative when it comes to Washington’s health,” said Schultz.