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Quantifying the Role of Soils in Salinization: Winter Road Maintenance Impacts to Runoff and Right-of-Way
YEAR: 2017

This study applies new approaches to understand the fate of soluble pollutants in the urban environment. Soil samples collected during warm season months as part of this field study compliment an existing effort to assess impacts of winter road maintenance on water quality by considering relationships between chlorides, soils and metals. The objective is to expand sampling and analysis from winter roadway runoff to also consider soil quality as a means of characterizing the fate and transport of soluble pollutants in winter road maintenance regimes; thus reducing water contamination potential from winter road maintenance activities. By sampling soils during warm- season months, data collected compliments winter runoff sampling and broadens the overall potential for data analysis. It expands the scope of an urban water quality monitoring project by incorporating warm-season soil analysis to quantify impacts from winter roadway runoff in two Eastern Iowa communities. By understanding the fate and transport of road salts from transportation systems, we gain further insight to environmental susceptibility to surface and groundwater contamination. As winter roadway runoff is diverted to infiltration-based stormwater management practices such as rain gardens and bioretention cells, potential for chloride contamination can increase. Metals are soluble in roadway runoff. Urban stormwater management practices for sediment and solids removal may perform poorly for treating such soluble pollutants. Results will verify urban watershed modeling tools implemented in project’s initial assessment phase, and determine needs for further analysis, data collection and scalability. Results will also inform local policy and practice regarding water quality concerns from road salts.