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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Sep 20;102(38):13517-20. Epub 2005 Sep 12.

Increased salinization of fresh water in the northeastern United States.

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  • 1Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Box AB Route 44A, Millbrook, NY 12545, USA.

Abstract

Chloride concentrations are increasing at a rate that threatens the availability of fresh water in the northeastern United States. Increases in roadways and deicer use are now salinizing fresh waters, degrading habitat for aquatic organisms, and impacting large supplies of drinking water for humans throughout the region. We observed chloride concentrations of up to 25% of the concentration of seawater in streams of Maryland, New York, and New Hampshire during winters, and chloride concentrations remaining up to 100 times greater than unimpacted forest streams during summers. Mean annual chloride concentration increased as a function of impervious surface and exceeded tolerance for freshwater life in suburban and urban watersheds. Our analysis shows that if salinity were to continue to increase at its present rate due to changes in impervious surface coverage and current management practices, many surface waters in the northeastern United States would not be potable for human consumption and would become toxic to freshwater life within the next century.

Comment in

  • From icy roads to salty streams. [Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005]
PMID:
16157871
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1224654
Free PMC Article

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