Abstract Title

Seasonal Trends in Road Salt Runoff in Semi-Urban Constructed Wetlands

Abstract

In areas that receive snow, road salts are applied to impervious surfaces to clear the snow and ice. The resulting liquid water carries these dissolved salt ions with it to nearby waterways as runoff. The increasing salinity of urban aquatic ecosystems is a potential hazard to aquatic life, and while many studies have investigated the behavior of road salts in streams and lakes, little has been done to examine wetlands. We investigate the type and quantity of salts found in two semi-urban constructed wetlands on Kent State University’s campus in northeast Ohio. Combining high resolution conductivity data with less frequent surface water samples that determine the concentrations of road salt components (chloride, acetate, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium) results in a robust data set that describes the response of urban wetlands to the application of road salt. Conductivity is measured with in situ sensors that give the relative amount of ions in the water, and surface water samples are analyzed via ion chromatography and inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy to describe and quantify the composition. Preliminary results indicate that indices of salt are extremely variable (specific conductivity ranges 689-22300 μs/cm; chloride ranges 74-423 mg/L), and are elevated in the winter months. Insights into salt trends in wetlands, and their potential hazards to aquatic life, can be used to help managers of constructed wetlands make more informed decisions about which salts could minimize negative environmental impacts while still maintaining safe roadways.

Modified Abstract

In areas that receive snow, road salts are applied to impervious surfaces to clear the snow and ice. The increasing salinity of urban aquatic ecosystems is a potential hazard to aquatic life, and while many studies have investigated the behavior of road salts in streams and lakes, little has been done to examine wetlands. We investigate the type and quantity of salts found in two semi-urban constructed wetlands on Kent State University’s campus in northeast Ohio. Combining high resolution conductivity data with less frequent surface water samples results in a robust data set that describes the response of urban wetlands to the application of road salt. Preliminary results indicate that indices of salt are extremely variable and are elevated in the winter months.

Research Category

Biology/Ecology

Author Information

Riley WeatherholtFollow

Primary Author's Major

Biology

Mentor #1 Information

Dr. Lauren Kinsman-Costello

Presentation Format

Poster

Start Date

5-4-2018 1:00 PM

Research Area

Biology

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Apr 5th, 1:00 PM

Seasonal Trends in Road Salt Runoff in Semi-Urban Constructed Wetlands

In areas that receive snow, road salts are applied to impervious surfaces to clear the snow and ice. The resulting liquid water carries these dissolved salt ions with it to nearby waterways as runoff. The increasing salinity of urban aquatic ecosystems is a potential hazard to aquatic life, and while many studies have investigated the behavior of road salts in streams and lakes, little has been done to examine wetlands. We investigate the type and quantity of salts found in two semi-urban constructed wetlands on Kent State University’s campus in northeast Ohio. Combining high resolution conductivity data with less frequent surface water samples that determine the concentrations of road salt components (chloride, acetate, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium) results in a robust data set that describes the response of urban wetlands to the application of road salt. Conductivity is measured with in situ sensors that give the relative amount of ions in the water, and surface water samples are analyzed via ion chromatography and inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy to describe and quantify the composition. Preliminary results indicate that indices of salt are extremely variable (specific conductivity ranges 689-22300 μs/cm; chloride ranges 74-423 mg/L), and are elevated in the winter months. Insights into salt trends in wetlands, and their potential hazards to aquatic life, can be used to help managers of constructed wetlands make more informed decisions about which salts could minimize negative environmental impacts while still maintaining safe roadways.