Mysterious red goop in Edgewood Creek turns out to be natural slime | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Mysterious red goop in Edgewood Creek turns out to be natural slime

Elevated levels of salts and iron may be to blame for a squishy, reddish substance in Edgewood Creek, near Kingsbury Grade.

The slimy sludge has been an issue of concern for some Kingsbury residents, who feared the muck was responsible for a deterioration in nearby vegetation.

Samples of surface water were taken from the creek in October and tested for general water chemistry, volatile organics, heavy metals and bacterial content.



“We got back some of our water quality samples and generally the water quality up there is quite good,” said Allen Biaggi, administrator of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.”We did see some elevated salts. There’s also some elevated iron and that explains what the red substance in the water is. It’s red algae and it likes to feed on the iron. It’s naturally occurring and it just happens every now and then.”

Biaggi said the stress on nearby vegetation likely has something to do with the level of total dissolved solids in the creek.



“We had a forest specialist go up and look at the trees,” Biaggi said. “He feels it is a natural fungus that is on the willows and the poplars. The elevated salt level may be putting a little stress on the trees, making them more susceptible to the fungus. Once the spring runoff starts, we’ll go up and grab some more water quality samples and make sure there is nothing really disturbing up there. But from what our results indicate, what we’re seeing in that area is a fairly natural phenomenon.”

Longtime Kingsbury resident Joni Wines said the explanation may account for the more than 150 trees which have died in her back yard, near the creek.

“It makes sense,” she said. “The salt would bother the trees and the snow removal pushes all the salt from the roads down to my trees. But that’s down in the meadow. The trees on the hillside of the house wouldn’t be affected by the salt, but maybe the iron.”

Wines said she is pleased with the investigative efforts of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

“I’m really, really impressed with how quickly they acted,” Wines said. “I left them a message and they were here the next day. They’ve been very good about trying to solve the problem. (Biaggi) said someone will come back and test the water again in the spring, and he said another tree specialist will be coming to look at the property.”


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