Are SNHU Waterways Impaired by Excess Chloride Due to Road Salt Application?

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Southern New Hampshire University
The chloride ion found in road salt accumulates in water bodies and has negative impacts on aquatic life and ecosystems. Amphibians experience developmental and behavioral changes at high chloride concentrations. Ecosystems can also be impacted – too much salt can cause water density changes, soil contamination, harm to algae, and harm to mammals. The road salt that is applied in colder climates is effective at ensuring the safety of drivers, but little attention is focused on the consequences of applying large amounts of road salt. To understand how much road salt is present in water bodies in southern New Hampshire, and to understand the relationship between urbanization and salinization, the conductivity of water samples was measured in an area immediately adjacent to the campus roadways and another remote location. The results are compared to meteorological data and impairment threshold values.