Beyond Chloride: Quantifying Localized Impacts of Road Salts on Urban Waters
Thursday March 21, 2019
11:30 am to 12:00 pm
My research aims to quantify impacts to urban waters from winter road maintenance, and to understand perspectives related to road salts and their uses
In the US, salts are not regulated as environmental contaminants. Evidence indicates winter road maintenance likely contributes to freshwater salinization, particularly in ultra-urban environments. While freshwater salinization is a rather serious environmental issue in its own right, it may in fact be the least of our concerns. Salts may serve as indicators of larger environmental problems that would otherwise go undetected by current monitoring by public agencies.
An even greater issue is how salts alter freshwater systems and possibly increase potential release of other pollutants in the environment, such as metals. Recent publications from USGS and the National Academies of Science indicate a national trend of increased freshwater salinization and corrosiveness. In both instances, research gaps are noted regarding further characterization at varying scales.
My work builds off these concepts, and quantifies local magnitudes, spatial and temporal impacts of salinization on urban streams, and assesses the attitudes and perceptions of those tasked with managing winter road conditions in the Midwest.
1. Understand freshwater salinization as a water quality concern.
2. Understand secondary effects of winter road maintenance, such as metal mobilization in runoff.
3. Understand the need to characterize local conditions with the best available data.
ABOUT THE PRESENTER
Rebecca Kauten is currently completing a PhD in geographical and sustainability science at the University of Iowa. Her research focuses on urban impacts to water quality.
Rebecca teaches geography and GIS courses for schools in Iowa and Montana, including a study abroad water and sustainability experience in India. She also holds a Masters of Public Policy with research emphasis on land use policy and was recently named an outstanding alumna from the University of Northern Iowa Graduate College.
Rebecca works to instill a sense of stewardship and excitement for the natural world as part of the learning experience. For more than a decade prior to her PhD, she worked in natural resource management with a focus on water quality and all aspects of community engagement through projects for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Department of Transportation, and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.