Road Salt and Urban Streams

National Science Foundation:

Paul Mayer, US EPA

Paul Mayer, US EPA

Urban landscapes are more complex than they seem, but from coast to coast may work in surprisingly similar ways, says Kaushal.

”Urban ecosystems can change relatively quickly in response to human activities,” he says. “These changes can result in rapid losses of ecosystem functions, like flood protection and pollution filtration—or can result in progress toward ecological health and productivity. The difference depends on how they are managed.”

In an overview article, Kaushal, McDowell and Wollheim point out the factors that affect the evolution of urban ecosystems. For example, the streams, lakes and land surfaces that make up cities’ watersheds show consistent patterns of change over time.

Urban waters are becoming saltier, partly due to road salt used for de-icing, and partly because the salt people eat ends up in urban streams.

You will find what you spread on the road and lawn. A cause and effect.