Sodium chloride has long been used for winter deicing, although its legacy use has resulted in rising chloride concentrations in urban watersheds. Persistently high chloride levels impair drinking water resources and threaten the health of aquatic life and vegetation. In urban areas, chloride fate and transport is impacted by human modification of the environment, including increased impervious surface cover and disconnection of stream corridors from riparian groundwater. We couple continuous streamflow records with weekly chloride concentration data over two water years to create continuous chloride load estimates at three locations along a degraded, urban stream in upstate New York with contrasting channelized and intact reaches. Our results show that degraded reaches characterized by channelized, armored banks and minimal groundwater connection deliver chloride loads closer to chloride application rates in the surrounding watershed. In contrast, stream-groundwater interactions in intact reaches adjacent to riparian floodplains, including surface water losses to subsurface flow paths, result in stream chloride loads that are 50% less than those delivered from upstream channelized reaches. These findings show that longitudinal chloride load estimates along a stream channel can be valuable in identifying the timing and magnitude of chloride sources and sinks, which may be common but less apparent in urban environments.
- Road salt
- Urban hydrology
- Watershed hydrology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Environmental Science(all)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health