The strange green substance spotted in Flat Creek last week was not an algae bloom, cyanobloom or toxic waste, according to the town’s public works officials.
Rather, it was a dye being used by a contractor as it performed a water main pressure test just north of the downtown area, said Jackson Public Works Director Floren Poliseo, who said she was fairly certain the dye was harmless to the environment and not a contaminant. Poliseo said it was either a new connection to the water main on private property or an update to an existing connection that necessitated the test.
“They were trying to pass their pressure test, and they were having a hard time passing,” Poliseo said. “So they dyed the water main to see if they could identify a leak, which ordinarily we have other ways of doing that. But then they ended up flushing the water line to the storm drain, which is how all the dye that was used to trace the water line and find the leak ended up in the creek, because the storm drains are connected to the creek.”
There is currently no town ordinance prohibiting dumping into a storm sewer, Poliseo said, though the metal catch basins on storm drains that drain into Flat Creek do have an imprint regarding what shouldn’t be dumped in the drains.
“People have seen those around town, and the idea there is to discourage people from putting things down the drain that don’t really belong there,” Poliseo said.
Last week’s incident was reported to the Teton Conservation District by at least one private citizen, who took video of the green dye floating in the creek. The conservation district then investigated, Poliseo said, and learned of the dye’s source.