In a typical winter season, approximately 471,000 tons of road salt are deposited along roadways in Illinois, USA. An estimated 45% of the deposited road salt will infiltrate through the soils and into shallow aquifers. Transported through shallow aquifers, chloride associated with the road salts has the potential to reside within groundwater for years based on the pathway, the geologic material, and the recharge rate of the aquifer system. Utilizing MODFLOW and MT3D, simulations employing various road-salt application rates were conducted to assess the net accumulation of chloride and the residence times of chloride in an agriculture-dominated watershed that originates in an urban area. A positive-linear relationship was observed between the application rate of chloride and both the maximum chloride concentration and total mass accumulated within the watershed. Simulated annual recharge rates along impacted surfaces ranged from 1,000 to 10,000 mg/L. After 60 years of application, simulated chloride concentrations in groundwater ranged from 197 to 1,900 mg/L. For all application rates, chloride concentrations within the groundwater rose at an annual rate of >3 mg/L. While concentrations increase throughout the system, the majority of chloride accumulation occurs near the roads and the urban areas. Model simulations reveal a positive relationship between application rate and residence time of chloride (1,123–1,288 days based on application rate). The models indicate that continued accumulation of chloride in shallow aquifers can be expected, and methods that apply less chloride effectively need to be examined.
Hydrogeology Journal – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 31, 2018
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