Magenta dye study traces water flow from the Dominguez Channel into Port Main Channel

On May 17, the Environmental Management Division of the Port of Los Angeles oversaw a study to determine the flow of water and contaminants from the Dominguez Channel into the Port's Main Channel using non-toxic, magenta-colored dye as part of the Port's ongoing Water Quality Program.

This program is part of the Port's $1.5 million water quality modeling study, conducted with funding provided under an agreement with the State Water Resources Control Board pursuant to the Costa-Machado Water Act of 2000 (Proposition 13), and is the first time such a comprehensive pollutant transport study has been done, according to the Port.

Small amounts of the non-toxic dye were released in two locations in the East Basin, and a larger quantity of dye was released in the Dominguez Channel. The dye was visible in the harbor as it moved in the water with the outgoing tide, and its movement was tracked by helicopter and small boat. Results should be made available in the near future.

"Our Environmental Management Division is very proactive in determining possible sources for water contamination. Clean water is a priority for the Port of Los Angeles, and we are working hard on all fronts to maintain our status as having some of the cleanest water of any industrialized port in the nation," said interim executive director Bruce Seaton.

The Port will conduct an additional dye tracer study after stormy weather to compare with the dry weather study. The results will help the Port, working in cooperation with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board and other stakeholders, better understand how contaminated runoff is transported into the harbor. Several measures have already been put in to place by the Port to reduce the runoff and its effects, including the implementation of the west coast's first advanced stormwater treatment system at a container terminal.

For more information on the Port of Los Angeles, visit

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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