Nonpoint Source Road Salt Pollution from Urban Stormwater

Monday, 15 December 2014
Shane DeGaetano and Michael Todd Walter, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States
In colder climates, such as the Northeast, road salts are commonly applied to deice roads in order to increase pedestrian and driver safety. This study was conducted to establish the mass if NaCl entering the local aquatic systems from Cornell’s campus. Using trail cameras, two typical storm water pipes (draining into Cascadilla Creek) were monitored to determine the volume of runoff on an hourly bases. Grab samples were taken three times a week obtain storm water chloride concentration. In general, the average measured salt concentration was found to be 3.61 g/L, while high precipitation events Cl- concentration spiked to levels exceeding 12 g/L (≈ 20 g/L of salt). Combining runoff volumes and salt concentration values, a mass per drainage area was calculated for each monitored pipe. Outfall #1, located just upstream from the Wilson Synchrotron Module, expelled 262,300 kg of salt over a 42-day period of data collection while Outfall#2 discharged 4160 kg during the same period. These results were averaged and then applied to the total impervious area on Cornell’s campus to approximate the total mass of sodium chloride leaving campus during the period of data collection.