Rising Salt Levels in Lakes Threaten Ecosystems

A new study released by the US-American National Academy of Sciences discovered an increasing amount of chloride in urban and rural freshwater lakes near the American continent. The researchers believe that road salt distributed on icy roadways is responsible for this.

The challenge now is to find a way to hinder this process without investing huge amounts of money.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Yevhenii Chulovskyi

How Increasing Salt Levels Threaten Eco Systems

Road de-icing salt is responsible for increasing salt levels present in freshwater lakes. This was exposed by a study by the National Academy of Sciences, which was performed over the last year and a half. In the project, 371 freshwater lakes throughout the American continent were evaluated.

With thousands of lakes at risk of long-term salinization, the ecosystem is extremely threatened. The change in the water condition will impact drinking water sources, recreation, fisheries, irrigation, and aquatic habitat.

We could be messing with our economy if the water gets saltier.

Donna Kashian, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, Wayne State University

Safety as Counterargument

Conversely, the safety on winterly roads cannot be ignored either.

Just based on what we see and hear at the Road Commission, we get a lot more complaints that the roads are slippery than we do that there’s salt in the environment.

Craig Bryson, Senior Manager, Communications for the Road Commission, Oakland County

Residents of the affected cities and municipalities will also be frustrated to see an increase in taxes for the benefit of the environment.

So What Could be a Solution to this Conflict of Interests?

Smart road weather sensors, like the mobile MARWIS, are a possible solution to this conflict on interest. It provides data on road conditions, salt percentages, temperatures as well as dew point temperatures in real-time and covers several spots with measurement rates of up to 100 times a second. Hence, it can save salt, time and money on road maintenance with a low investment.

For instance, the smart device helped one of OTT HydroMet's airport customers save over 10,000 Euros on de-icing chemicals in less than two weeks.

How to Save Salt by Means of the Latest Measurement Technologies?

By quantifying ice percentages, dew points, road temperatures and chemical wetness, MARWIS informs the user if salt is needed or not in real-time. When MARWIS issues the road surface status “chemical wet,” it implies that there is sufficient salt left to keep the ground wet instead of freezing.

When MARWIS detects ice percentages or gives the road status “critical wet,” road salt must be spread to avoid the ground from freezing over.

To ease the interpretation of the sensor values, the ViewMondo software provides road-salt spray suggestions depending on the MARWIS data. In the future, the sensor’s data could be combined into the spreader systems of gritting vehicles to issue not only spray suggestions but also directly regulate the spreader.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by OTT HydroMet.

Lufft is one of OTT HydroMet's strong brands for professional environmental monitoring. For more information on this source, please visit OTT HydroMet.

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