UPDATE: Test of Lake Siskiyou water shows green substance is safe

Mike Chapman
Redding Record Searchlight
A green substance found in the water at the north shore of Lake Siskiyou on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, turned out to be an approved food-grade coloring and not toxic algae, according to the Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services and Environmental Health.

A pool of emerald water in Lake Siskiyou looked a little like St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago when the city dyes the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day.

But, no, Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services Director Bryan Schenone said the city of Mount Shasta used too much of a safe green dye Tuesday when it checked a storm drain that flows into the lake outside the Siskiyou County city.

“They may have used a little too much and that’s why we had that big overflow of green (dye) in that drain system,” Schenone said Wednesday. “The fish were actually swimming around in there.”

The Siskiyou County OES and Environmental Health raised the alarm through a Facebook post Tuesday when the green substance was found in the water between Wagon Creek and the Wagon Creek Bridge. Authorities initially warned the water was contaminated pending tests.

On Wednesday morning authorities determined the green substance was an approved food-grade coloring and not toxic algae. The green coloring is used to check storm drains.

“My concern is safety first,” said Schenone, who’s trained to handle hazardous material spills.

He said there was no harm to the fish nor wildlife.

“There’s a weird green substance in the water and I’m going to do whatever I need to do to make sure people stay out of the water. We didn’t know the substance and it’s not every day that you find a bright green substance in a lake,” he said.

Schenone said he was headed back to check the lake Wednesday afternoon after the city flushed the storm drain to disperse the dye.

Mike Chapman is an award-winning reporter and photographer for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Wash. Support local journalism by subscribing today.