Northeastern Section - 56th Annual Meeting - 2021

Paper No. 1-6
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


HIWILLER, Erika, Geology, Kent State University, 800 E Summit St., Kent, OH 44240 and SINGH, Kuldeep, Kent State University, 800 East Summit Street, Kent, OH 44240

Usage of road salt as a deicing agent continues to dominate areas with hazardous winter weather conditions. This reliance has the potential to cause damage to subsurface aquifers, contaminate groundwater resources, and impact public health and the environment. Many surface water bodies are finding elevated salt concentrations in the summer months. This shows that road salt is being stored in aquifers over time and slowly getting released into streams during the summer as base-flow. The process of subsurface salt storage, its residence time, and how aquifer heterogeneity controls these processes are not well understood. In this study, a computational model which solves for the advection-dispersion equation was constructed to show how road salt is transported in the subsurface. Sensitivity to variables such as water-table topography, stratigraphic heterogeneity, presence of clay and sand lenses, and frequency of salt loading related to climate change are studied. The results from these computational models will aid policy makers to craft legislation to minimize the impact of the damages associated with road salt. Using these results, we make suggestions to the policy makers of potential suggestions of policy that both balances maintaining the safety on roadways and protecting our groundwater resources.