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Freshwater Salinization Syndrome Alters Retention and Release of ‘Chemical Cocktails’ along Flowpaths: from Stormwater Management to Urban StreamsFreshwater 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 »Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 27, 2023
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.
R2= 0.62 and 0.43 for Mn and Cu, respectively), and showed that specific conductance could be used as a proxy to predict concentrations of major ions and trace metals. Major ions and trace metals analyzed via linear regression and principal component analysis showed co-mobilization (i.e. correlations among combinations of specific conductance (SC), Mn, Cu, Sr2+, and all base cations during certain times of year and hydrologic conditions). Co-mobilization of metals and base cations was strongest during peakmore »
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: human activities, geology, flowpaths, climate, and time. (1) Human activities drive pulsed or chronic inputs of salt ions and mobilization of chemical contaminants. (2) Geology drives rates of erosion, weathering, ion exchange, and acidification-alkalinization. (3) Flowpaths drive salinization and contaminant mobilization along hydrologic cycles. (4) Climate drives rising water temperatures, salt stress, and evaporative concentration of ions and saltwater intrusion. (5) Time influences consequences, thresholds, and potentials for ecosystem recovery. We hypothesize that state factors advance FSS in distinct stages, which eventually contribute to failures in systems-level functions (supporting drinking water, crops, biodiversity, infrastructure, etc.). We present future research directions for protecting freshwaters at risk based on five state factors and stages from diagnosis to prognosis to cure.Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 16, 2023
null (Ed.)Abstract Freshwater salinization is an emerging global problem impacting safe drinking water, ecosystem health and biodiversity, infrastructure corrosion, and food production. Freshwater salinization originates from diverse anthropogenic and geologic sources including road salts, human-accelerated weathering, sewage, urban construction, fertilizer, mine drainage, resource extraction, water softeners, saltwater intrusion, and evaporative concentration of ions due to hydrologic alterations and climate change. The complex interrelationships between salt ions and chemical, biological, and geologic parameters and consequences on the natural, social, and built environment are called Freshwater Salinization Syndrome (FSS). Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of salinization issues (past, present, and future), and we investigate drivers and solutions. We analyze the expanding global magnitude and scope of FSS including its discovery in humid regions, connections to human-accelerated weathering and mobilization of ‘chemical cocktails.’ We also present data illustrating: (1) increasing trends in salt ion concentrations in some of the world’s major freshwaters, including critical drinking water supplies; (2) decreasing trends in nutrient concentrations in rivers due to regulations but increasing trends in salinization, which have been due to lack of adequate management and regulations; (3) regional trends in atmospheric deposition of salt ions and storage of salt ions in soils and groundwater, andmore »