Cultural Meromixis: the Influence of Road Salt Deicers on Two Urban Kettle Lakes

Monday, 15 December 2014
Carla Koretsky1,2, Ryan Sibert3, Davina A Wyman2, Denisha Griffey2 and Rama V Krishnamurthy2, (1)Western Michigan University, Lee Honors College, Kalamazoo, MI, United States, (2)Western Michigan University, Department of Geosciences, Kalamazoo, MI, United States, (3)University of Georgia, Marine Sciences, Athens, GA, United States
The increasing global use of road salt deicers has led to an influx of salts, particularly NaCl and CaCl2, into urban surface waters. This influx has led to documented salinization of drinking water supplies, as well as damage to ecosystems. There is an increasing recognition that the influx of road salt deciers may also influence the physical mixing of lakes, with dramatic consequences for lake biogeochemistry. In this study, the water column chemistry of two kettle lakes in urban Kalamazoo, MI, USA was monitored for over a year. Woods Lake, an ~9.7 ha, 14 m max depth lake, receives most water from storm water sewers, whereas nearby Asylum Lake, an ~19.8 ha, 15.8 m max depth lake, is primarily groundwater fed. The water columns of both lakes are strongly redox stratified, but exhibit some significant differences in water chemistry. The input of road salt has caused Woods Lake to transition to meromixis, with permanently anoxic bottom waters and significant accumulations of dissolved Mn(II), Fe(II), NH3, PO4-3 and sometimes HS- in the hypolimnion. In contrast, Asylum Lake appears to be monomictic, with turnover occurring in fall, but not spring. During most seasons, the hypolimnion of Asylum Lake has significant levels of dissolved Mn(II), NH3, PO4-3, and sometimes HS-, but dissolved Fe(II) remains below detection limits. A comparison of δ18O and δD with the local meteoric water line demonstrates that both lakes undergo significant evaporation. Woods Lake is considerably more influenced by evaporation than Asylum Lake, presumably due to the longer residence time of water in Woods Lake. The longer residence time, together with the smaller volume of water in Woods Lake, likely explains the more rapid transition to meromixis compared to Asylum Lake. This study demonstrates that road salt deicers can significantly influence the biogeochemistry and physical function of urban lakes, and in some cases can result in dimictic lakes transitioning to cultural meromixis.