EAST ALTON – Research from RiverWatch Director and
Stream Ecologist Danelle Haake illustrates how community members can be a part
of the scientific field and provides new insight on how road salt application
affects our local streams.
Haake, who holds
a doctorate in biology from Saint Louis University, is a senior scientist and
RiverWatch Director at Lewis and Clark Community College’s National Great
Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) and has over 10
years of experience in stream ecology research.
paper, “Impacts of Urbanization of Chloride and Stream Invertebrates,” was
published in the journal “Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management.”
The article was co-authored by three citizen scientists who also participated
in the study.
“The goal of
this research is two-fold,” Haake said. “It will hopefully lead to greater
knowledge about what is happening locally and show how chloride levels from
road salt are impacting local stream ecosystems in our communities; second, it
will show that data collected by citizen scientists – ordinary people who care
about water quality and local stream health – is just as valid as other
Haake was one of
the founding members who started the chloride monitoring volunteer network over
10 years ago. At the time, she was working as a restoration ecologist in St.
Louis and monitored stream water quality monthly with fellow volunteers with
the Missouri Stream Team.
monitoring session, we noticed there were really high chloride concentrations,”
Haake said. “Seeing that, I reached out to other volunteers in St. Louis. That
got the ball rolling, and next thing we knew we had 30 volunteers monitoring at
almost 60 sites.”
The study, in
partnership with the Missouri Stream Team, was conducted over the course of 10
years, from 2009 – 2020 at 31 different sites located throughout St. Louis
findings show that in communities of all sizes, the amount of roadway has a
strong influence on the amount of chloride in the stream, but in areas with
medium-to-high density urban development, non-road sources such as sidewalks
and parking lots may have an even greater contribution to chloride levels.
and municipalities can use this study to show there is a definite impact from
road salt, not just the amount being applied on roads, but also on parking lots
and sidewalks” Haake said.
indicates the need for Best Management Practices (BMPs) for non-municipal
applications specifically in commercial areas that are not under municipality
management. Larger agencies and municipalities already utilize BMPs as
guidelines or codes of practice for de-icing winter roadway, considering
cost-effectiveness while limiting environmental risk and damage.
and retention ponds capture water and salt from pavement and parking lots and
slow the infiltration of salt concentrations into streams, but unfortunately,
the chloride levels in streams still increase in the long-term.” Haake said.
“Whatever you can do to use less salt is the best practice for reducing
chloride levels in streams.”
members interested in monitoring chloride in their local stream can visit www.ngrrec.org/riverwatch/chloride-monitoring/
to participate in Illinois and mostreamteam.org/ to participate in
Haake’s paper is
available through the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry at https://doi.org/10.1002/ieam.4594
information, contact Haake at firstname.lastname@example.org or (618) 468-2784.
Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC ℠ ) Founded
in 2002 as a collaborative partnership between the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign and Lewis and Clark Community College, NGRREC is dedicated to
the study of great river systems and the communities that use them. The center
aspires to be a leader in scholarly research, education, and outreach related
to the interconnectedness of large rivers, their floodplains, watersheds, and
their associated communities.