Avondale’s Stroud Water Research Center: Winter Road Salt Runoff in Local Streams Is a ‘Problem Year-Round’

truck in a street
Image via Alejandro Alvarez, Philadelphia Inquirer.

Road salt has been making some Philadelphia-area streams as salty as the ocean. The tinged runoff from winter roads is putting local wildlife in danger, according to data curated by the Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale. Frank Kummer plowed through the environmental implications for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Local data show that there is now enough salt in some local streams to either stress or kill specific species of fish, insects, amphibians, and mussels. In fact, road salt is now so pervasive that scientists, such as John Jackson at Stroud, are seeing high levels of salt in streams months after winter’s end.

Jackson analyzes data from testing monitors located at First State National Historical Park in Chadds Ford. The results “shocked me,” he said.

Researchers usually focus on levels of salt in freshwater streams right after winter storms. But Jackson has been examining data continuously as the weather warms.

“I started looking at the levels in summers, and suddenly it just jumped out that this a problem year-round,” Jackson said. “It’s not just about winter storms.”

According to the Stroud center, salt levels in some area streams are 10-30 times higher than the natural levels in summer.

Read more about Stroud Water Research Center in The Philadelphia Inquirer.