Residents Startled by Crimson Canals in Stanislaus County

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STANISLAUS COUNTY -- Among the muted tones of brown dirt and tree branches, the color of some canals in Stanislaus County stands out where the water had been flowing with a shade of crimson. An alarming sight for some, but the Modesto Irrigation District is telling residents not to worry.

“The red dye is non-hazardous. There is no threat to public health or safety,” said Melissa Williams, a spokeswoman with MID.

Williams met with FOX40 at a canal off Hammett Road in Stanislaus County where crews just added the red dye along with an herbicide. The dye keeps track of the herbicide. Williams said the treatments were needed to keep the delta in good shape.

“The Modesto Irrigation District uses an herbicide to control algae and weeds in our canal system to make sure that the water keeps flowing,” she said.

MID claims Cascade, the herbicide they use, does not contain any carcinogenic chemicals.

After a couple of days this water will find its way onto farmland and will be used to water crops.

“It’s completely safe. It’s non-hazardous. It will not harm the land nor the crops,” Williams said.

But there’s a time limit to this color show. MID said within 48 hours the color should return back to normal. Take for instance the canals on Briggsmore which were treated on Thursday. Canals throughout the county have been treated and the color in most of them is now back to normal.

MID said they began using this red dye last irrigation season, and they expect to treat the water in their canals again in six to eight weeks.​