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This content will become publicly available on June 27, 2023

Title: Freshwater Salinization Syndrome Alters Retention and Release of ‘Chemical Cocktails’ along Flowpaths:  from Stormwater Management to Urban Streams
Freshwater salinization syndrome (FSS) refers to the suite of interactive effects of salt ions on degradation of physical, biological,and social systems. Best management practices (BMPs), which are methods to effectively reduce runoff and nonpoint source pollution (stormwater, nutrients, sediments), do not typically consider management of salt pollution. We investigate impacts of FSS on mobilization of salts, nutrients, and metals in urban streams and storm water BMPs by analyzing original data on concentrations and fluxes of salts, nutrients, and metals from 7 urban watersheds in the Mid-Atlantic USA and synthesizing literature data. We also explore future critical research needs through a survey of practitioners and scientists. Our original data show 1) sharp pulses in concentrations of salt ions and metals in urban streams directly following both road salt events and stream restoration construction (e.g.,similar to the way concentrations increase during other soil disturbance activities); 2) sharp declines in pH (acidification) in response to road salt applications because of mobilization of H+ from soil exchange sites by Na+; 3) sharp increases inorganic matter from microbial and algal sources (based on fluorescence spectroscopy) in response to road salt applications, likely because of lysing cells and changes insolubility; 4) substantial retention (~30–40%) of Na+ more » in stormwater BMP sediments and floodplains in response to salinization; 5) increased ion exchange and mobilization of diverse salt ions (Na+, Ca2+, K+, Mg2+), nutrients(N, P), and trace metals(Cu, Sr) from stormwater BMPs and restored streams in response to FSS; 6) downstream increasing loads ofCl–, SO42–, Br–, F–,andI–along flowpaths through urbanstreams and P release from urban stormwater BMPs in response to salinization; and 7)a substantial annual reduction (>50%) in Na+concentrations in an urban stream when road salt applications were dramatically reduced, which suggests potential for ecosystem recovery. We compare our original results with published metrics of contaminant retention and release across a broad range of stormwater BMPs from North America and Europe.Overall, urban streams and stormwater BMPs consistently retain Na+ and Cl–but mobilize multiple contaminants based on salt types and salinity levels. Finally, we present our top 10 research questions regarding FSS impacts on urban streams and stormwater BMPs. Reducing diverse chemical cocktails of contaminants mobilized by freshwater salinization is a priority for effectively and holistically restoring urban waters. « less
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Award ID(s):
2021015 2021089
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Freshwater Science
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. null (Ed.)
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