Nav: Home

Road salt pollutes drinking water wells in suburban New York state

April 11, 2018

(Millbrook, NY) Road salt applied during the winter lingers in the environment, where it can pollute drinking water supplies. In a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Quality, researchers identify landscape and geological characteristics linked to elevated well water salinity in a suburban township in Southeastern New York.

Victoria Kelly, lead author and Environmental Monitoring Program Manager at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, explains, "Each year, millions of metric tons of road salt are applied to roads in the US. Some of this salt seeps into the soil, where it accumulates and contaminates groundwater. We wanted to understand why some wells were more at risk than others, to inform management that protects water quality."

Kelly and colleagues analyzed publicly available data on water samples taken from 956 private drinking water wells in East Fishkill, New York between 2007 and 2013. More than half of the wells sampled exceeded US Environmental Protection Agency health standards for sodium. Distance to the nearest road and amount of nearby pavement strongly influenced well water salinity. Surprisingly, well depth and road type -- ranging from interstate highways to back roads -- did not have a significant impact.

GIS analysis of sodium and chloride concentrations was used to describe the pattern of road salt distribution in the aquifers tapped for drinking water, and to compare surface features in the surrounding area of each well location. The team assessed neighborhood-scale variables, including well depth, proximity to roads, well elevation relative to nearby roads, impervious surface, surface geology, and soil type to discern relationships between development and well salinity.

Findings linking pavement and other impervious surface cover to well salinity support a growing body of evidence that development and urbanization cause groundwater salinization. Proximity to a road increased a well's chloride concentration, yet road type - major or minor - did not have an impact. Well depth did not significantly impact saltiness and elevation in relation to nearby roads only affected wells when the roads were more than 30 meters from the nearest well.

Several hotspots, where salinization was especially high, were identified. Suggested contributing factors included sharp turns and steep grades that required heavier road salt application, and narrow streets that only accommodate older, less efficient salt trucks. There was only one cold spot, in an area of low housing density, reinforcing the relationship between urbanization, salt application, and freshwater salinization.

"Understanding the landscape features that lead to increased groundwater salinization can inform targeted salt application," explains Stuart Findlay, a freshwater ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. "The time to act is now, as we know it can take decades or more for the salt currently in groundwater to flush out."

Kelly adds, "In planning efforts to minimize road salt impacts, our findings tell us that smaller roads should not be overlooked and areas with a lot of pavement and porous, well-drained soils are most at risk of experiencing salinization. Road salting is not one-size-fits-all undertaking. More targeted approaches will keep roads safe while reducing unintended consequences to drinking water supplies."
-end-
Investigators

Victoria R. Kelly - Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Mary Ann Cunningham - Department of Earth Science and Geography, Vassar College
Neil Curri - Department of Earth Science and Geography, Vassar College
Stuart E. Findlay - Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Sean M. Carroll - Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County

The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is one of the world's leading independent environmental research organizations. Areas of expertise include disease ecology, forest and freshwater health, climate change, urban ecology, and invasive species. Since 1983, Cary Institute scientists have produced the unbiased research needed to inform effective management and policy decisions.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Related Drinking Water Articles:

Research targets PFOA threat to drinking water
A highly toxic water pollutant, known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), last year caused a number of US communities to close their drinking water supplies.
Neonicotinoids detected in drinking water in agricultural area
Concern over the use of neonicotinoid pesticides is growing as studies find them in rivers and streams, and link them with declining bee populations and health effects in other animals.
Graphene sieve turns seawater into drinking water
Graphene-oxide membranes have attracted considerable attention as promising candidates for new filtration technologies.
Glowing crystals can detect, cleanse contaminated drinking water
Motivated by public hazards associated with contaminated sources of drinking water, a team of scientists has successfully developed and tested tiny, glowing crystals that can detect and trap heavy-metal toxins like mercury and lead.
Study: Conservation preferred way to protect drinking water
A new study from the University of Delaware found when given the choice, people prefer to invest their money in conservation, such as protecting key areas of a watershed -- also referred to as green infrastructure -- than traditional water treatment plants -- also referred to as gray infrastructure.
Just add water? New MRI technique shows what drinking water does to your appetite, stomach and brain
Stomach MRI images combined with functional fMRI of the brain activity have provided scientists new insight into how the brain listens to the stomach during eating.
Is fluoride in drinking water safe? (video)
It's in our tap water, toothpaste and even in tea.
Drinking more water associated with numerous dietary benefits, study finds
University of Illinois professor Ruopeng An led a study that examined the dietary habits of more than 18,300 US adults, and found the majority of people who increased their consumption of plain water by 1 percent reduced their total daily calorie intake as well as their consumption of saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol.
Is disinfectant necessary for safe drinking water?
A difference has emerged between some Western European countries and the US regarding the use of residual disinfectants to offer safe drinking water.
Does living near an oil or natural gas well affect your drinking water?
Does living near an oil or natural gas well affect the quality of your drinking water?

Related Drinking Water Reading:

Drinking Water: A History (Revised Edition)
by James Salzman (Author)

The completely revised and updated edition of the definitive book on one of the most important and controversial topics of our time: drinking water

When we turn on the tap or twist open a tall plastic bottle, we probably don’t give a second thought about where our drinking water comes from. But how it gets from the ground to the glass is far more convoluted than we might think.

In this revised edition of Drinking Water, Duke University professor and environmental policy expert James Salzman shows how drinking water highlights the most pressing issues... View Details


A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story
by Linda Sue Park (Author)

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to... View Details


Drinking Water: A History
by James Salzman (Author)

Title: Drinking Water( A History) Binding: Paperback Author: JamesSalzman Publisher: OverlookPress View Details


Drinking Water: Principles And Practice
by P. J. De Moel (Author), J. Q. J. C. Verberk (Author), J. C. Van Dijk (Author)

This unique volume provides a comprehensive overview of all the major aspects of modern drinking water systems in the western European context. It not only covers the theoretical principles, but also the historical background and practical aspects of design and operation, legislation, planning and finance of drinking water supply in its social and economic context.

The principles and practices are illustrated using experiences from The Netherlands. The Dutch drinking water supply is well known for its multiple barrier systems and high technical standards. The Dutch drinking water is of... View Details


The Drinking Water Book: How to Eliminate Harmful Toxins from Your Water
by Colin Ingram (Author)

The Drinking Water Book takes a level-headed look at the serious issues surrounding America's drinking water supply. In the completely revised comprehensive guide to making tap and bottled water safer, you'll find unbiased reporting on what's in your water and how to drink safely. Featuring the latest scientific research, Ingram evaluates the different kinds of filters and bottled waters and rates specific products on the market. The Drinking Water Book:

·   Honestly and thoroughly tackles a subject vital to ongoing environmental, health, and safety concerns
·... View Details


Water Quality & Treatment: A Handbook on Drinking Water (Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Series)
by American Water Works Association (Author), James K. Edzwald (Author)

The definitive water quality and treatment resource--fully revised and updated

Comprehensive, current, and written by leading experts, Water Quality & Treatment: A Handbook on Drinking Water, Sixth Edition covers state-of-the-art technologies and methods for water treatment and quality control. Significant revisions and new material in this edition reflect the latest advances and critical topics in water supply and treatment. Presented by the American Water Works Association, this is the leading source of authoritative information on drinking water quality and treatment.

NEW... View Details


Drinking Water: Contamination, Toxicity and Treatment
by Javier D. Romero (Editor), Pablo S. Molina (Editor)

Water of sufficient quality to serve as drinking water is termed potable water whether it is used as such or not. Although many sources are utilised by humans, some contain disease vectors or pathogens and cause long-term health problems if they do not meet certain water quality guidelines. Water that is not harmful for human beings is sometimes called safe water, water which is not contaminated to the extent of being unhealthy. The available supply of drinking water is an important criterion of carrying capacity, the population level that can be supported by planet Earth. Typically water... View Details


Drinking Water: Refreshing Answers to All Your Questions (Louise Lindsey Merrick Natural Environment Series)
by James Symons (Author)

Over the past several years, the safety of public drinking water has often been called into question. Is fluoridated water safe to drink? Is there lead or radon in tap water? Should you buy a water softener or other home treatment device? Jim Symons, known as "Dr. Water," offers critical information on such subjects as health, home treatment, quality testing, federal regulation, and consumer information. Written in question-and-answer format, Drinking Water offers straightforward, easy-to-understand answers to many common questions about public water supplies, thus providing a "user-friendly"... View Details


Drinking the Waters: Creating an American Leisure Class at Nineteenth-Century Mineral Springs
by Thomas A. Chambers (Author)

Few public places in the early nineteenth century offered men and women from different regions of the United States the opportunity to socialize with each other. At the resorts of Virginia's western mountains and upstate New York's Saratoga Springs, the nation's social, economic, and political leaders gathered to relax and to recuperate, and in the process they began to form a 'fledgling aristocracy.' As Thomas Chambers reveals, at these resorts the boundaries of class and region were defined, tested, solidified, and broken by the Civil War, but eventually repaired in its aftermath.
View Details


The Drinking Water Handbook, Third Edition
by Frank R. Spellman (Author)

This new edition of The Drinking Water Handbook is thoroughly revised and updated, and includes a comprehensive discussion of the Flint, Michigan lead contamination event, new coverage of contaminants in water, such as personal care products and pharmaceuticals (PCPP) and endocrine disruptors, and examines the security requirements for waterworks and ancillary procedures. It examines the process of producing drinking water― from sources of water, to the purification process, through distribution systems to the tap, and then to the actual use and reuse of water. It also reflects the... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Turning Kids Into Grown-Ups
Parenting is fraught with uncertainty, changing with each generation. This hour, TED speakers share ideas about raising kids and how — despite our best efforts — we're probably still doing it wrong. Guests include former Stanford dean Julie Lythcott-Haims, former firefighter Caroline Paul, author Peggy Orenstein, psychologist Dr. Aala El-Khani, and poet Sarah Kay.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#470 Information Spookyhighway
This week we take a closer look at a few of the downsides of the modern internet, and some of the security and privacy challenges that are becoming increasingly troublesome. Rachelle Saunders speaks with cyber security expert James Lyne about how modern hacking differs from the hacks of old, and how an internet without national boards makes it tricky to police online crime across jurisdictions. And Bethany Brookshire speaks with David Garcia, a computer scientist at the Complexity Science Hub and the Medical University of Vienna, about the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, and how social media platforms put a wrench...