Water experts use dye to find connection between Lost River & the Cacapon

On the evening of April 30, staff of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, in coordination with West Virginia partners, deployed a bright green dye into the lower Lost River.

The dye will help scientists understand how water travels underground in a complex geological environment, said event leaders. That dye appeared in the Cacapon River, which connects to the Lost River underground.

Cacapon River at Wardensville, showing a green food dye that hydrology experts placed in the Lost River to find the connection between the two water bodies.

“During dry weather, the Lost River disappears underground and reappears as the Cacapon River. The geological connection between the two rivers is not fully understood,” said Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin. “As the food grade dye sinks into the cracks and fissures in the Lost River, ICPRB scientists will monitor and map the color as it reemerges at springs throughout the Cacapon watershed.”

To help track the dye, staff installed passive carbon pack collectors (essentially fish tank carbon filters) throughout the watershed.

The safe dye will degrade and wash away in only a few days, leaving the Cacapon as it was before, they said.