Geologist injecting dye into stream Water traces have been performed throughout Missouri for a number of years and for many different reasons. Tracers such as feathers and wheat chaff once were used in an effort to determine the source of springs and cave streams. However, early water tracing techniques offered questionable results because of the ambiguity of detection methods, and they caused water supplies to be unusable for periods of time.

Groundwater investigations, cave exploration, well installation methods, engineering aspects related to leaking dams, and the determination of properly working septic tanks are a few instances when water traces are performed today. Technological advances incorporate the use of non-toxic fluorescent tracer dye and scanning spectrofluorometers into the science of water tracing. Fluorescent dye and scanning equipment provide a safe and effective alternative for previous methods.

For many years, the Geological Survey Program has operated a water tracing laboratory dedicated to conducting water traces and related research. In 1991, the Missouri Water Tracing Committee was formed. This committee is in charge of data collection and storage from the many Missouri water tracers. The Missouri Water Tracing Laboratory performs a number of traces each year, conducts research, and provides technical assistance to water tracers throughout the state. Registration of Missouri water traces is requested in an effort to collect and store data, and to increase public awareness and knowledge about the importance of water tracing. A number of forms are available to help water tracers organize their traces. This program is strictly voluntary and is free to the public.

The goal of the Missouri Water Tracing Committee is to provide technical assistance to the citizens of Missouri and organize the data collected by the large number of water tracers throughout the state. A database is housed at the Missouri Water Trace Laboratory. This database shows the locations of water traces performed within the state and summaries of each trace. Water tracers may use this data base to aid them in their own traces.

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