Rock Salt Affecting Water Sources and Wildlife

2 years 1 month 17 hours ago April 04, 2014 Apr 4, 2014 Friday, April 04 2014 Friday, April 04, 2014 5:22:00 PM CDT in News
By: Andie Lowenstein, KOMU 8 Reporter

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
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Police said Thursday a man was killed in a Kansas City shooting. The Kansas City... More >>
40 minutes ago May 05, 2016 May 5, 2016 Thursday, May 05 2016 Thursday, May 05, 2016 8:37:00 AM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A new program in St. Louis seeks to address the problem of abandoned properties by giving... More >>
1 hour ago May 05, 2016 May 5, 2016 Thursday, May 05 2016 Thursday, May 05, 2016 7:31:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Hundreds of Shelby Mustangs gathered in Jefferson City Thursday to mark the beginning of the tenth anniversary... More >>
2 hours ago May 05, 2016 May 5, 2016 Thursday, May 05 2016 Thursday, May 05, 2016 6:37:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Police Department said early Thursday it arrested a person after a shots fired incident... More >>
4 hours ago May 05, 2016 May 5, 2016 Thursday, May 05 2016 Thursday, May 05, 2016 5:08:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A trial started Wednesday for a Jefferson City who man police say confessed to a murder a... More >>
14 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 7:15:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - MoDOT released a report showing the fatality rate during late-night hours is the highest it's been since 2012,... More >>
14 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 7:12:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Representatives voted Wednesday to send a voter ID bill to Gov. Jay Nixon's desk. House... More >>
15 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 5:51:00 PM CDT in News
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Planned Parenthood affiliates have filed a federal lawsuit over Kansas' decision to cut off Medicaid... More >>
15 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 5:34:03 PM CDT in News
CAPE GIRARDEAU (AP) — Two white southeast Missouri school officials who are being sued by a black teenager say in... More >>
16 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 4:39:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Two-thirds of the Missouri House has voted to change how public union members pay dues, the... More >>
16 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 4:36:04 PM CDT in News
JOPLIN (AP) — State agricultural officials say 39,000 turkeys at a southwest Missouri farm have been destroyed after avian flu... More >>
16 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 4:27:58 PM CDT in News
ST. JOSEPH (AP) — Efforts are underway to reopen the old Tarkio College in northwest Missouri as a two-year institution.... More >>
17 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 4:12:27 PM CDT in News
FERGUSON (AP) — Ferguson is seeking to replace a city prosecutor criticized by a federal probe of the St. Louis... More >>
17 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 4:05:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two police officers are among five people injured after fire broke out at a St. Louis... More >>
17 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 4:01:39 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — A Moberly man accused of killing a 92-year-old woman with a machete pleaded guilty Wednesday. Christopher D.... More >>
17 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 3:42:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A mother from suburban St. Louis alleges in a lawsuit that her 9-year-old son is prohibited... More >>
17 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 3:39:00 PM CDT in News
COLE COUNTY — A Cole County grand jury indicted the three men charged with a shooting in Jefferson City that... More >>
18 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 3:13:00 PM CDT in News
HARRISBURG — For most, homework is a hassle, but the promise of it paying off with a better quality of... More >>
19 hours ago May 04, 2016 May 4, 2016 Wednesday, May 04 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 2:00:00 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 55°
10am 58°
11am 60°
12pm 64°
1pm 65°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
10:00a
Crazy Talk
10:30a
Crazy Talk

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Strong
8:00p
The Blacklist
9:01p
Game of Silence
7:00p
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
8:00p
The 100
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld