Rock Salt Affecting Water Sources and Wildlife

4 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 – After a life-threatening accident 17 years ago, a Columbia man is proving you never have to give up... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, December 16 2018 Dec 16, 2018 Sunday, December 16, 2018 12:46:00 PM CST December 16, 2018 in Sports
COLUMBIA - A University of Missouri assistant football coach was arrested Saturday on a warrant from Miller County after failing... More >>
7 hours ago Sunday, December 16 2018 Dec 16, 2018 Sunday, December 16, 2018 10:12:00 AM CST December 16, 2018 in Sports
FULTON - Two people were arrested on various drug charges Sunday morning. According to a release, Police stopped a... More >>
10 hours ago Sunday, December 16 2018 Dec 16, 2018 Sunday, December 16, 2018 7:08:00 AM CST December 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Symphony will play holiday music Sunday for the Symphony of Toys concert. Students in the Missouri... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 9:45:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - People gathered at Hickman High School on Saturday to celebrate holidays from several cultures. KOPN Community Radio... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 9:10:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia College had a special moment during the graduation ceremony Saturday to honor a student who died in... More >>
21 hours ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 8:15:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Diocese confirmed Saturday three people were added to its list of clergy accused of... More >>
22 hours ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 7:31:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Police made an arrest in connection to Saturday afternoon's shooting in the 3800 block of Aspen Heights... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 4:40:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Capitol has recently completed an effort to restore and conserve the building's... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 3:26:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
BOONVILLE - Anyone walking around Boonville might be able to play a game of "I spy" now that painted rocks... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 10:50:00 AM CST December 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- High school football teams from around the state will travel to Memorial Stadium for the next five years to... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 9:41:00 AM CST December 15, 2018 in Sports
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke , who's facing federal investigations into his travel, political... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 8:53:00 AM CST December 15, 2018 in News
ASHLAND - The Southern Boone Area YMCA will build a new 15,714 square-foot facility in the next two years, if... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 7:48:00 AM CST December 15, 2018 in News
ALTON, Ill. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a man who is suspected of fleeing to Missouri after officers shot... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 7:12:00 AM CST December 15, 2018 in News
PERRYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A former county official from southeast Missouri already in prison on a conviction of exploiting the... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 7:09:52 AM CST December 15, 2018 in News
NEW BLOOMFIELD - The Holts Summit Police Department has offered to include New Bloomfield in its coverage area for the... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 9:47:00 PM CST December 14, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- A federal judge in Texas said on Friday that the Affordable Care Act's individual coverage mandate is unconstitutional... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 8:12:00 PM CST December 14, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON - A new report released Friday ranks Missouri 48th in the nation for tobacco use prevention programs. ... More >>
1 day ago Friday, December 14 2018 Dec 14, 2018 Friday, December 14, 2018 8:08:00 PM CST December 14, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 49°
6pm 45°
7pm 42°
8pm 40°
9pm 38°