Dye put into the fountains at Triangle Park last week seeped into Town Branch of Elkhorn Creek, prompting the local Division of Water Quality to issue notices of violation to Downtown Lexington Corp. and Lexington Center Corp.
The violation notices, which carry no penalties, financial or otherwise, has taught officials of the two corporations a valuable lesson, they say.
Bill Owen, president of Lexington Center Corp., said measures are being taken to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Owen, Downtown Lexington Corp. president Renee Jackson and Mark York, a spokesman for the Division of Water Quality, said the dye was a vegetable dye like that used in foods.
"There have been no fish kills, no signs of stress within the creek. There's been no irreversible harm done with the discharge, but it is a violation," York said. "It's technically what we call an illicit discharge. If it doesn't fall from the sky, it's not supposed to be in our water."
An inspector with the Division of Water Quality noticed that Town Branch, parts of which run beneath the city, was red where it emerges at Cox Street and for about two miles beyond that, York said. The investigator checked Town Branch several times on Monday, and the tint was gone, he said.
Pink dye was added to the fountains last week to color the water as a promotion for the Fountain Films on Friday outdoor movie Pretty In Pink and its sponsor, Susan G. Komen for the Cure. But the water turned red, and efforts to make it pink apparently were what caused the dye to go into Town Branch. Much of the red water was drained, and clear water was added to dilute the mixture, Jackson said Friday.
Triangle Park, built more than 30 years ago, is not connected to the sanitary sewer system, Owen said. It is connected to the storm sewer system, and storm sewers empty directly into local streams and creeks.
Donna Dixon, office manager at Middlebrook Farm on Old Frankfort Pike, which is about eight to 10 miles from downtown, noticed and reported the red water in that area Thursday.
"It was definitely a color that was atypical," she said.
Moving forward, Owen said, should the water in the Triangle Park fountains be dyed, it will be pumped out and drained through the sanitary sewer system or treated with a chemical, such as chlorine.
Meanwhile, Owen said he had received emails from several people who want the fountain water to be dyed Wildcat blue during the University of Kentucky basketball season or green for St. Patrick's Day.
"It's done in other cities quite often. I don't see any reason why we wouldn't do it," Jackson said. "I think the public really enjoyed it."