Abstract

Occurrence of increasing chloride concentrations in urban streams of cold climates, mainly due to road salt application, has raised concerns on its adverse effects on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Therefore, there is a need for a better understanding of processes associated with road salt application and subsequent discharge into the environment in order to develop management practices to minimize detrimental effects of chlorides. The chloride mass analysis for the Highland Creek watershed based on four years of hourly monitoring data indicates that approximately 60% of the chlorides applied on the watershed enter streams prior to subsequent salting period, 85% of which occurs during the period between November and March. Contribution of private de-icing operations on chloride mass input within Highland Creek watershed was estimated to be approximately 38%, indicating its significance in overall chloride mass balance. Salt application rates, as well as chloride output in the streams, vary spatially based on land use, influencing chloride concentrations in surface waters. The estimated groundwater chloride concentration of 275 mg/L indicates that some aquatic organisms in Highland Creek would potentially be at risk even outside the winter period under dry weather flow conditions.

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