New Study Shows Salt Threatens River Water Quality

The new study found 66% of streams and rivers have become more alkaline over the past 50 years

New study found high salt content in nation's streams

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 66% of streams and rivers have become more alkaline over the past 50 years. The researchers analyzed five decades of data from 232 U.S. Geological Survey monitoring sites to evaluate salinity changes in the U.S. and southern Canada. 

The researchers attributed the changes to excess salt in waterways from a variety of sources. The primary source they noted was heavy use of sodium chloride, road salt, to maintain winter roads. Additionally, high potassium fertilizers, brines released during fracking and rock weathering were listed in the study as contributing factors.

Water with high salinity and alkaline content is difficult to treat, which can result in damaged pipelines. Alkaline water can contribute to excessive scaling and corrosion in pipes, and can release zinc and copper from rocks.

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