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  1. Abstract

    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, andtime. (1)Human activitiesdrive pulsed or chronic inputs of salt ions and mobilization of chemical contaminants. (2)Geologydrives rates of erosion, weathering, ion exchange, and acidification‐alkalinization. (3)Flowpathsdrive salinization and contaminant mobilization along hydrologic cycles. (4)Climatedrives rising water temperatures, salt stress, and evaporative concentration of ions and saltwater intrusion. (5)Timeinfluences 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.

     
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  2. 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, and (4) applications of specific conductance as a proxy for tracking sources and concentrations of groups of elements in freshwaters. We prioritize FSS research needs related to better understanding: (1) effects of saltwater intrusion on ecosystem processes, (2) potential health risks from groundwater contamination of home wells, (3) potential risks to clean and safe drinking water sources, (4) economic and safety impacts of infrastructure corrosion, (5) alteration of biodiversity and ecosystem functions, and (6) application of high-frequency sensors in state-of-the art monitoring and management. We evaluate management solutions using a watershed approach spanning air, land, and water to explore variations in sources, fate and transport of different salt ions (e.g.monitoring of atmospheric deposition of ions, stormwater management, groundwater remediation, and managing road runoff). We also identify tradeoffs in management approaches such as unanticipated retention and release of chemical cocktails from urban stormwater management best management practices (BMPs) and unintended consequences of alternative deicers on water quality. Overall, we show that FSS has direct and indirect effects on mobilization of diverse chemical cocktails of ions, metals, nutrients, organics, and radionuclides in freshwaters with mounting impacts. Our comprehensive review suggests what could happen if FSS were not managed into the future and evaluates strategies for reducing increasing risks to clean and safe drinking water, human health, costly infrastructure, biodiversity, and critical ecosystem services.

     
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  3. Freshwater Salinization Syndrome (FSS) refers to groups of biological, physical, and chemical impacts which commonly occur together in response to salinization. FSS can be assessed by the mobilization of chemical mixtures, termed “chemical cocktails”, in watersheds. Currently, we do not know if salinization and mobilization of chemical cocktails along streams can be mitigated or reversed using restoration and conservation strategies. We investigated 1) the formation of chemical cocktails temporally and spatially along streams experiencing different levels of restoration and riparian forest conservation and 2) the potential for attenuation of chemical cocktails and salt ions along flowpaths through conservation and restoration areas. We monitored high-frequency temporal and longitudinal changes in streamwater chemistry in response to different pollution events (i.e., road salt, stormwater runoff, wastewater effluent, and baseflow conditions) and several types of watershed management or conservation efforts in six urban watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Principal component analysis (PCA) indicates that chemical cocktails which formed along flowpaths (i.e.,permanent reaches of a stream) varied due to pollution events. In response to winter road salt applications, the chemical cocktails were enriched in salts and metals (e.g.,Na+, Mn, and Cu). During most baseflow and stormflow conditions, chemical cocktails were less enriched in salt ions and trace metals. Downstream attenuation of salt ions occurred during baseflow and stormflow conditions along flowpaths through regional parks, stream-floodplain restorations, and a national park. Conversely, chemical mixtures of salt ions and metals, which formed in response to multiple road salt applications or prolonged road salt exposure, did not show patterns of rapid attenuation downstream. Multiple linear regression was used to investigate variables that influence changes in chemical cocktails along flowpaths. Attenuation and dilution of salt ions and chemical cocktails along stream flowpaths was significantly related to riparian forest buffer width, types of salt pollution, and distance downstream. Although salt ions and chemical cocktails can be attenuated and diluted in response to conservation and restoration efforts at lower concentration ranges, there can be limitations in attenuation during road salt events, particularly if storm drains bypass riparian buffers.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 22, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  5. There are challenges in monitoring and managing water quality due to spatial and temporal heterogeneity in contaminant sources, transport, and transformations. We demonstrate the importance of longitudinal stream synoptic (LSS) monitoring, which can track combinations of water quality parameters along flowpaths across space and time. Specifically, we analyze longitudinal patterns of chemical mixtures of carbon, nutrients, greenhouse gasses, salts, and metals concentrations along 10 flowpaths draining 1,765 km 2 of the Chesapeake Bay region. These 10 longitudinal stream flowpaths are drained by watersheds experiencing either urban degradation, forest and wetland conservation, or stream and floodplain restoration. Along the 10 longitudinal stream flowpaths, we monitored over 300 total sampling sites along a combined stream length of 337 km. Synoptic monitoring along longitudinal flowpaths revealed: (1) increasing, decreasing, piecewise, or no trends and transitions in water quality with increasing distance downstream, which provide insights into water quality processes along flowpaths; (2) longitudinal trends and transitions in water quality along flowpaths can be quantified and compared using simple linear and non-linear statistical relationships with distance downstream and/or land use/land cover attributes, (3) attenuation and transformation of chemical cocktails along flowpaths depend on: spatial scales, pollution sources, and transitions in land use and management, hydrology, and restoration. We compared our LSS patterns with others from the global literature to synthesize a typology of longitudinal water quality trends and transitions in streams and rivers based on hydrological, biological, and geochemical processes. Applications of LSS monitoring along flowpaths from our results and the literature reveal: (1) if there are shifts in pollution sources, trends, and transitions along flowpaths, (2) which pollution sources can spread further downstream to sensitive receiving waters such as drinking water supplies and coastal zones, and (3) if transitions in land use, conservation, management, or restoration can attenuate downstream transport of pollution sources. Our typology of longitudinal water quality responses along flowpaths combines many observations across suites of chemicals that can follow predictable patterns based on watershed characteristics. Our typology of longitudinal water quality responses also provides a foundation for future studies, watershed assessments, evaluating watershed management and stream restoration, and comparing watershed responses to non-point and point pollution sources along streams and rivers. LSS monitoring, which integrates both spatial and temporal dimensions and considers multiple contaminants together (a chemical cocktail approach), can be a comprehensive strategy for tracking sources, fate, and transport of pollutants along stream flowpaths and making comparisons of water quality patterns across different watersheds and regions. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 9, 2024
  6. Freshwater Salinization Syndrome (FSS) refers to the suite of physical, biological, and chemical impacts of salt ions on the degradation of natural, engineered, and social systems. Impacts of FSS on mobilization of chemical cocktails has been documented in streams and groundwater, but little research has focused on the effects of FSS on stormwater best management practices (BMPs) such as: constructed wetlands, bioswales, ponds, and bioretention. However emerging research suggests that stormwater BMPs may be both sources and sinks of contaminants, shifting seasonally with road salt applications. We conducted lab experiments to investigate this premise; replicate water and soil samples were collected from four distinct stormwater feature types (bioretention, bioswale, constructed wetlands and retention ponds) and were used in salt incubation experiments conducted under six different salinities with three different salts (NaCl, CaCl2, and MgCl2). Increased salt concentrations had profound effects on major and trace element mobilization, with all three salts showing significant positive relationships across nearly all elements analyzed. Across all sites, mean salt retention was 34%, 28%, and 26% for Na+, Mg2+and Ca2+respectively, and there were significant differences among stormwater BMPs. Salt type showed preferential mobilization of certain elements. NaCl mobilized Cu, a potent toxicant to aquatic biota, at rates over an order of magnitude greater than both CaCl2and MgCl2. Stormwater BMP type also had a significant effect on elemental mobilization, with ponds mobilizing significantly more Mn than other sites. However, salt concentration and salt type consistently had significant effects on mean concentrations of elements mobilized across all stormwater BMPs (p< 0.05), suggesting that processes such as ion exchange mobilize metals mobilize metals and salt ions regardless of BMP type. Our results suggest that decisions regarding the amounts and types of salts used as deicers can have significant effects on reducing contaminant mobilization to freshwater ecosystems.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 4, 2024
  7. 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+ 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. 
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  8. null (Ed.)