A high sodium diet: Road salt impacts on soil, groundwater, and stream chemistry in Baltimore County, MD

A high sodium diet: Road salt impacts on soil, groundwater, and stream chemistry in Baltimore County, MD

10-03-2013

5:45pm reception (with refreshments) followed by the seminar at 6:00 in Caputo 210

Abstract:

Over the last 50 years in the US, both the area covered by roads and other impervious surfaces and road salt usage have increased. The upward trend in road salt use corresponds with increasing sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl) concentrations in groundwater and streams. Rising concentrations are observed not only in the winter months but throughout the year with potential impacts on terrestrial and aquatic organisms as well as drinking water quality.

The connection between road salt impacts and the growing number of stormwater management basins (SMBs), a best practice in modern construction, has been understudied. The role of SMBs in altering the timing and amount of road salt loading is being investigated in Owings Mills, a suburb north of Baltimore, MD. Groundwater, stream, soil, and aquifer matrix materials have been collected and characterized to determine the impact of road salt on soil, groundwater, and stream chemistry. SMBs seem to increase the residence time of road salt in groundwater and streams with potential negative impacts for down gradient ecosystems. Ongoing work includes the deployment of numerous data loggers to carefully characterize the rates and mechanism of road salt impacts on local water and soil.