Rock Salt Affecting Water Sources and Wildlife

3 years 3 weeks 20 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
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
FULTON - The Fulton Police Department found a body on Monday that's likely to be that of 31-year-old Carl DeBrodie.... More >>
10 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 8:24:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA- The time has come for Missouri elementary and middle schoolers to take the annual Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test.... More >>
11 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 6:50:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Developers have been busy since the Unified Development Ordinance passed earlier this year. As a result of the... More >>
12 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 6:42:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Another way to get around town is entering Missouri's state capital. Uber began operating in Jefferson... More >>
12 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 6:28:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri, police said four people are in custody after one of them allegedly... More >>
12 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 5:53:52 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri public K-12 schools appear set to get roughly $48 million more in basic aid next... More >>
12 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 5:51:30 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – An expert from a group looking to eliminate all things nuclear spoke Tuesday to a crowd of mid-Missourians.... More >>
14 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 4:22:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is currently processing a claim of racial discrimination against the Boone County... More >>
14 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 4:02:00 PM CDT in News
FAYETTE - Fayette Resident Megan Monckton said she and her husband had plans to go flying with pilot Charles McCutcheon,... More >>
15 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 3:39:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY – As the law currently stands, it is legal to discriminate against LGBTQ Missourians. House Bill 846,... More >>
15 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 3:30:00 PM CDT in News
FAYETTE – More than 100 people attended the second annual “Never Forget…Never Again” Holocaust Remembrance Day at Linn Memorial Church... More >>
15 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 3:03:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court said that a woman running a dog kennel can't sue dog advocacy... More >>
15 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 2:53:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two children were critically injured after a police chase ended in a crash near Lambert Airport... More >>
16 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 2:45:05 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Supreme Court of Missouri upheld the decision by a lower court regarding the sentence in a... More >>
16 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 2:00:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has appointed Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell to the state... More >>
18 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 12:21:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two children are critically injured after a police chase ended in a crash near Lambert Airport... More >>
18 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 12:14:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — An advocacy group is pushing a bill that would increase the age of people tried in... More >>
18 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 11:56:54 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A student at Battle High School was taken into police custody on Monday after administrators reported finding drugs... More >>
20 hours ago April 25, 2017 Apr 25, 2017 Tuesday, April 25 2017 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 10:05:00 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 59°
7am 62°
8am 61°
9am 58°
10am 57°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

6:00a
KOMU 8 News Today
7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
6:30a
King of the Hill
7:00a
Cheaters
7:30a
Cops Reloaded

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Blindspot
8:00p
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
9:00p
Chicago P.D.
7:00p
Arrow
8:00p
The 100
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld