Blue Lagoon dyed black


NewImageThis stunning lake at Harpur Hill in the East Midlands of England is just begging you to dive in, no? Problem is, the quarry pool, known as the Blue Lagoon, has a pH level comparable to bleach and is teeming with garbage and dead animals. The bright blue hue (and the high pH) comes from the quarry stone. Signs warning visitors not to take a dip didn't work, so now the High Peak Borough Council recently dyed the water black. "It's not pretty any more," local business owner Rachel Thomas told the BBC. "They don't think they're on holiday in the Bahamas any more, they know they're in Harpur Hill."


  1. On the plus side, the high pH should help turn the dead animals into delightful, cleansing, soap!

  2. Lake? That’s clearly a gravel pit where gravel and sand were mined on a small scale for a local project.

    And folks, any fresh water that’s colored bright blue-green is going to be nasty. 

      1. Yep, I was thinking of that same exact view (in Jasper/Banff, Canadian National Parks).

        In those lakes (and streams) the refracting light off the sediment from glacial runoff creates the awesome colors. The water is damn near freezing, but refreshing for a brief swim when you’ve been camping/hiking for days without a decent shower.

        Of course, I imagine that incepentmadness is probably right about any stagnant body of water that isn’t flowing but maintaining a brilliant color.

      2. An exception sure. But in general an with an enclosed body of water (fresh or salt) vivid, nearly-neon colors indicate the presence of not nice things. Whether its heavy metals in salt pools or the high pH in this old quarry. So in general its best to stay away from the day glow water.

        1.  It really depends on if the colour comes from stuff suspended/dissolved in the water itself, or that’s the “apparent” colour of the water due to illumination of the bottom, and absorption of longer wavelengths in the water.

          Shallow tropical seas look turquoise because they’ve got white sandy bottoms.  Limestone and dolostone (very commonly used for aggregate, and quarried in gravel pits) are also bright white when freshly broken, so you’ll get the same turquoise colour for shallow ponds or lakes that form in the bottom of gravel pits, and it has nothing to do with contaminants in the water.

          1. Good point, but I think its a better idea not to dive into the pretty water till you know why its that color.

            I think the confusion is that myself and incipientmadness seem to be thinking of situations where the water itself, or deposits in the water are actually that color. As opposed to simply appearing that way thanks to lovely science. That may not be appropriate in this case.

      3. I don’t think that most people (who don’t live in the Southwestern US) realize that standard pool plaster (as in this image) is white.

        1.  Pools are that color because they have white bottoms and life-destroying chemicals added to them. But we know exactly what chemicals are in a pool and that they aren’t very harmful. When I see something swimming pool blue in nature, I figure it’s full of chemicals that kill life.

          I don’t know how the lakes in Canada get so blue. I am a subtropical flatlander. I do not comprehend how a body of fresh water would not fill up with green stuff and be stained brown by tannins from rotting leaves.  Only thing I’ve seen like this gravel mine was a sand pit that had been used as a dump. Thanks everyone for pointing our the weird lakes in Canada. I marvel at them.

          1. Pools are that color because they have white bottoms and life-destroying chemicals added to them.

            No, they’re that color because they have water in them. That’s the color of plain old water.

          2.  I didn’t mean that the chemicals were blue, just that fresh water usually ends up with lots of brown and green stuff in it. The chemicals prevent that from happening.

    1. Jeez.  One guy with bad eczema and nobody wants to swim there anymore.  There were plenty of good-looking people there that day, as well.

  3. They should have given natural selection a little push in the right direction and simply put up a ton of signs around it stating the pH and nothing else.  :-)

  4. Seems like they could have pumped copious amounts of air into it, via bubblers, to gradually lower the pH and fix CO2 at the same time.  I suppose that would take a while, though.

    1. Austerity, my friend, austerity. Someone probably had a can of super-black Krink ink in their garage and didn’t want to fuss with recycling. That’s some good ol’ fashioned make-do and know-how in action!

      1.  Wonder what they *did* use, and how long it’ll stay black, given the water’s properties.

    2. If it’s alkaline because of carbonate minerals, bubbling air through it won’t reduce the pH.  And as an aside, reducing the pH would release carbon dioxide, not fix it.

      They could possibly balance the pH by dumping thousands of tonnes of rotting organic garbage into it (like digging manure into chalky soil), which would also help discourage swimmers I suppose.

    1. The pH is a result of the rock/soil the lake bed is made of. Whatever way you choose to clean it up more of that is just going to dissolve in leaving you with the same alkaline lake you started out with. 

      1.  No. Natural minerals that would result in a pH of 11+ are extremely rare. Turns out that the high pH is a result of leftover CaO (now presumably Ca(OH)2) from industrial processes at the mine, i.e. lime burning. See here:

        Pumping in CO2 would have worked fine for this situation, given time – the calcium would drop out as CaCO3 as the pH came down. A quicker fix would have been a few tons of sulfuric acid to drop the calcium out as calcium sulfate and leave the remaining water as a buffered solution of mixed CaSO4/Ca(OH)2. Of course there is also some trash floating on the surface, but that looks like it would be easy to clean up.

        1. Good find. The brief coverage I’ve seen of this blamed it on the surrounding rock.

        2. I like problems that can be solved using tons of sulphuric acid!

          Or cyborg dinosaurs, but I guess not this time. [sigh]

          1. You never know. Maybe cyborg dinosaurs pee sulphuric acid. It’s the best of both worlds!

  5. “They don’t think they’re on holiday in the Bahamas any more, they know they’re in Harpur Hill.”

    What a great metaphor for the Canadian Government. Even has the right name.

      1. You know what a metaphor is? Same thing.

        Allow me to take some time out of my day to explain the joke:  Canada has a government at the moment that likes to call itself “The Harper Conservative Government”. This Govt. operates the country from a hill (Parliament Hill) and sees nature as something to be conquered and commodified. The result being that they are killing and poisoning the country, much in the same way that this lake is poisonous. Pretty soon, all of Canada will be black and people will know They’re not in a nice vacation spot any more, they’re in Harper ((Harpur)<–See the connection?)) Hill. Aka, the horrible poisoned mess that the Prime Minister of Canada has left.

        Get it now?

  6. If it was the Blue Lagoon, and it’s now dyed black, then isn’t it now… the Black Lagoon?

  7. Black’s a very popular color for nice swimming pools in the US.  Maybe they should have gone with red.

      1. I say that in my Worf voice right before the Just For Men Sandy Blond goes on the eyebrows.

  8. I don’t think anyone’s tried taking a dip in here. Better dye it black just to be sure. Think of the children! 

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