Harpeth River turns red in Williamson County — here’s why

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Williamson County Emergency Agency is alerting residents after a portion of the Harpeth River has turned red.

The agency responded to the river Tuesday morning for the red color of the river near Forrest Crossing.

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  • Harpeth River red water
    (Photo: WKRN)
  • Harpeth River red water
    (Courtesy: City of Franklin)
  • Harpeth River red water
    (Courtesy: Williamson County Emergency Management Agency)
  • Harpeth River red water
    (Courtesy: City of Franklin)

There is reportedly no danger to the public, according to WEMA.

A contractor approved by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) performed a dye test and the dye didn’t dissipate quickly due to low water levels, according to WEMA.

The city of Franklin reported one of its consultants, Hazen and Sawyer, began the dye test of the Harpeth River Monday evening. The test started under the Interstate 65 Bridge near the Red Wing subdivision and used a water tracer called Rhodamine WT.

The Rhodamine WT caused a portion of the river upstream of the water treatment plant to turn red, as intended, as the purpose of the test was to understand travel time of the river during the current flow condition, according to a Franklin spokesperson.

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The dye was placed in the river Monday evening with the expectation the color would dissipate by morning. But due to the very low flows in the river, it did not dissipate as expected.

The city of Franklin reported the dye trace testing was recommended by the TDEC for river model calibration. The consultant coordinated directly with TDEC regarding approach, approval and timing of the study.

Rhodamine WT is a dye that is used in the industry for these types of tests and is safe for animals, humans and plant life.

No additional information was immediately released.

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