Red river shows flow

Engineers from the University of Warwick are injecting red dye into the River Don and its tributaries to study the way it flows and see how best to deal with pollution and floodwater.

The water engineering research team, warwickWater, are working with Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency to find ways of protecting river ecology in the event of sudden poor water quality. One potential solution could be to release of water from reservoirs to help flush away any pollution. To measure the method’s effectiveness, the team are looking to collect accurate measurements of water flow in the waterways.

The research team began injecting harmless red dye into the rivers Loxley and Little Don on 20th August 2007 and will study its movement over the course of a week. This will allow them to measure the travel time for extra water released from Damflask and Underbank reservoirs to reach the Don between Sheffield and Rotherham. Local residents have been warned that the river may take on a red hue during this period but that the dye used is perfectly harmless.

The researchers will be looking in particular at how fast the dye reaches the Don around Blackburn Meadows sewage treatment works in Sheffield. In June, the floods which hit the UK overwhelmed it, and untreated sewage entered the Don until Yorkshire Water could restore treatment at the facility.
Prof Ian Guymer, Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Warwick, leads the research team.