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- Nature Sustainability
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- National Science Foundation
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Sensors track mobilization of ‘chemical cocktails’ in streams impacted by road salts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed
Increasing trends in base cations, pH, and salinity of freshwaters have been documented in US streams over 50 years. These patterns, collectively known as freshwater salinization syndrome (FSS), are driven by multiple processes, including applications of road salt and human-accelerated weathering of impervious surfaces, reductions in acid rain, and other anthropogenic legacies of change. FSS mobilizes chemical cocktails of distinct elemental mixtures via ion exchange, and other biogeochemical processes. We analyzed impacts of FSS on streamwater chemistry across five urban watersheds in the Baltimore-Washington, USA metropolitan region. Through combined grab-sampling and high-frequency monitoring by USGS sensors, regression relationships were developed among specific conductance and major ion and trace metal concentrations. These linear relationships were statistically significant in most of the urban streams (e.g.
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A changing climate and often unregulated water extractions have exposed over 2 billion people to water stress worldwide. While water managers have explored a portfolio of options to reduce this stress, supply augmentation through reuse of treated municipal wastewater is becoming increasingly attractive. Wastewater treatment plants protect water quality and prevent sewage from contaminating waterways. Increasingly, this resource is utilized for numerous human (e.g., irrigation, drinking water, groundwater recharge) and conservation (e.g., stream and river recharge) needs in water stressed regions. To understand the role treated municipal wastewater plays in impacting conservation objectives we identified the intersection of wastewater treatment plant locations and occurrences of threatened and endangered (T&E) species in California and compared the permitted contribution of effluent to baseflow quantities of the receiving waterbody to assess the degree to which changes in effluent could affect instream waterbodies. We found a positive correlation between the presence of treatment plants and T&E species in California watersheds—a quarter of species have 100% of their range in watersheds with at least one treatment plant. This correlation is greatest for species associated with terraces and riparian habitat, followed by aquatic habitat and aquatic emergent vegetation. One‐third of watersheds in our analysis canmore »
Factors driving freshwater salinization syndrome (FSS) influence the severity of impacts and chances for recovery. We hypothesize that spread of FSS across ecosystems is a function of interactions among five state factors:
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