Rock Salt Affecting Water Sources and Wildlife

3 years 8 months 1 week ago Friday, April 04 2014 Apr 4, 2014 Friday, April 04, 2014 5:22:00 PM CDT April 04, 2014 in News
By: Andie Lowenstein, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - The harsh winter weather caused crews to spread roads and sidewalks with rock salt. New research is showing large amounts of salt on the roads may be affecting the environment.

The City of Columbia used about 4,000 tons of rock salt this winter, which is a little more than last year. Columbia Public Works Public Information Officer Steven Sapp says during winter events the city makes conscious decisions about whether to use salt to treat roads.

"Certainly we know what the consequences of using any chemical treatment on the roadways is. It's going to go into our local creeks and waterways and eventually not only here in Columbia but throughout Boone County and farther down stream," Sapp said. "And so, we do weigh that."

He also says the city is aware that rock salt is affecting wildlife in the waterways, but currently it doesn't have a good alternative to use.

"It comes down a lot to a public policy decision and right now public policy is telling us when it snows or when there's ice they want roads clear," Sapp said. "It's also a public safety issue. We need to clear the priority routes to at least get public safety through."

Dr. Jason Hubbart is a professor of hydrology and water equality in the School of Natural Resources and Director of the Water Center for the MU College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources. He says experts used to think of chloride as something that would easily filter in and out of water systems quickly. However, recent studies show it can take months for chloride to wash out. This could be largely affecting biological organisms in the creek that may be living in a habitat laced with chloride. Dr. Hubbart said chloride is known to impact reproductive rates among organisms and cause additional issues.

The MU School of Natural Resources, Boone County and the City of Columbia have been working on improving policies and practices in Hinkson Creek. The MU School of Natural Resources has been working on a project in attempts to restore the creek.

In the fall of 2008, Dr. Hubbart's project obtained its first set of funding from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. That winter, he installed a nested scale experimental watershed study design in Hinkson Creek with five permanent monitoring sites to observe climate, precipitation and stream flow around the clock.

"Those things are very important because precipitation provides the transport mechanism for pollutants," Hubbart said.

As soon as the monitoring sites were established he began looking at pollutants. The project is currently examining levels of nutrients, suspended sediments, chloride, dissolved oxygen, and temperature. The pollutant data can tell researchers a lot about an aquatic ecosystem, including its potential for providing an adequate habitat for organisms in the creek.

Research students manually collect data every other day from all five monitoring locations. "This is important because you can go out once and get a sample but that won't tell you about seasonal effects, when the chloride shows up in the water, how long it persists in the water," Hubbart said.

During the five years of research, there was a drought year and one year with excess snowfall which gave researchers a good look at what happens to the creek because one of the main places chloride in the creek comes from is road salts.

So the question is: even if the chloride isn't at toxic levels is its ongoing presence in the creek high enough to cause long-term problems?

The City of Columbia falls within 60 percent of the Hinkson Creek watershed toward the lower end. That area shows great impact from urban development, impervious surfaces and products like road salts.

"I think we can expect to see degradation continue. People often ask me ‘How can we fix Hinkson Creek?' My favorite answer is remove all the people from the watershed and never let them come back, ever," Hubbart said. "The likelihood of that is not good but that's what we would have to do to restore Hinkson Creek, really, to pre-settlement conditions."

"We all know that anything we put on to the roadways whether it's break fluid that drips out of your vehicle or oil or gas, or the cigarette butt you throw out the window, or whether it's a little bit of trash it is going untreated, untreated into our creeks and streams," Sapp said.

Dr. Hubbart hopes his data can be useful for other cities the size of Columbia in the Midwest and globally.

Visit the Hinkson Creek Watershed Restoration Projects site to learn more.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - For people in jail, it's sometimes difficult to get together the funds to bail out. That's where... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 10:24:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Alabama Republican Roy Moore, beset by allegations of sexual misconduct, lost his bid to become a senator.... More >>
4 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 9:30:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The former Cole County Chief Juvenile Officer sued his former boss and the Cole County Commission Tuesday,... More >>
5 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 7:33:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY - An abandoned car caught fire Tuesday at the intersection of East Broadway and South Rolling Hills Road.... More >>
6 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 7:21:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The man found dead at an Old Hawthorne home Monday morning was the son of a Clark County... More >>
6 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 7:21:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri has entered in a new foster care study that will look at foster parent recruitment and retention.... More >>
6 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 6:51:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
AUDRAIN COUNTY - A criminal investigation was underway Tuesday after a man's death and a vehicle fire. Foul play was... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 5:08:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The 2018 Jefferson City council elections only have one contested seat: 5th Ward Council member. Incumbent... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 4:41:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Cover Missouri, a coalition promoting sign ups for the Affordable Care Act, held an open-enrollment event at the... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 4:41:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Police are still investigating the death of Augustus Roberts, the man found dead at a home in the... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 3:46:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Truman VA’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) went live with a new Tele-ICU technology on Tuesday. Tele-ICU... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 3:46:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - Troopers arrested a man on Tuesday after a high-speed chase which started south of Ashland and ended in... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 3:38:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
VERSAILLES - Prosecutors filed charges against three employees of the Morgan County Jail on Monday, including a nurse accused of... More >>
10 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 2:37:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri has become the 34th state, in addition to two territories, to accept a nationwide public safety network.... More >>
10 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 2:35:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
NEVADA (AP) — Two inmates who were captured soon after breaking out of a western Missouri jail face new charges.... More >>
11 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 2:20:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
ASHLAND – Those who live around Ashland were able to avoid paying an online convenience fee or driving to Columbia... More >>
11 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 2:16:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Legislation for a primary seatbelt law has been filed by the Missouri House Transportation Committee chairman. This... More >>
12 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 1:03:00 PM CST December 12, 2017 in Top Stories
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Firefighters have found two bodies while battling a blaze in a Kansas City, Kansas, home.... More >>
13 hours ago Tuesday, December 12 2017 Dec 12, 2017 Tuesday, December 12, 2017 11:53:16 AM CST December 12, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 25°
2am 30°
3am 30°
4am 31°
5am 32°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

1:07a
Inside Edition
1:37a
Paid Program
2:07a
Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda
1:00a
Top 30
1:30a
Page Six TV
2:00a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Wall
8:00p
Golden Globe 75th Anniversary Special
7:00p
Riverdale
8:00p
Dynasty
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld