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There is no denying the urban sprawl in America is spreading. Researchers found startling data in freshwater lakes of the Northern United Sates. Too many chlorides in salt can do damage to many areas of life, from killing off plants and trees or stunting reproduction of beneficial animal to environmental catastrophes like Flint, Michigan. Researchers determined that,

““The good news is that we can always improve water quality,” Dugan says. Unlike phosphorus or other pollutants that can lurk in sediments in a lakebed for long periods of time, chlorides stay in the water column, and can gradually be flushed out of a lake as new water enters the lake. “If you improve the water going into a lake you have the potential to freshen the lake,” Dugan says.”

This can happen as we reduce the amount of chlorides that every salt user emits.

This article was published in Popular Science and can be found here, http://www.popsci.com/lakes-are-getting-saltier

Quote from the original study,

“In lakes, chloride is a relatively benign ion at low concentrations but begins to have ecological impacts as concentrations rise into the 100s and 1,000s of mg L−1. In this study, we investigate long-term chloride trends in 371 freshwater lakes in North America. We find that in Midwest and Northeast North America, most urban lakes and rural lakes that are surrounded by >1% impervious land cover show increasing chloride trends. Expanding on this finding, thousands of lakes in these regions are at risk of long-term salinization. Keeping lakes “fresh” is critically important for protecting the ecosystem services freshwater lakes provide, such as drinking water, fisheries, recreation, irrigation, and aquatic habitat.”

Additionally, the study’s Abstract states, “Abstract-

The highest densities of lakes on Earth are in north temperate ecosystems, where increasing urbanization and associated chloride runoff can salinize freshwaters and threaten lake water quality and the many ecosystem services lakes provide. However, the extent to which lake salinity may be changing at broad spatial scales remains unknown, leading us to first identify spatial patterns and then investigate the drivers of these patterns. Significant decadal trends in lake salinization were identified using a dataset of long-term chloride concentrations from 371 North American lakes. Landscape and climate metrics calculated for each site demonstrated that impervious land cover was a strong predictor of chloride trends in Northeast and Midwest North American lakes. As little as 1% impervious land cover surrounding a lake increased the likelihood of long-term salinization. Considering that 27% of large lakes in the United States have >1% impervious land cover around their perimeters, the potential for steady and long-term salinization of these aquatic systems is high. This study predicts that many lakes will exceed the aquatic life threshold criterion for chronic chloride exposure (230 mg L−1), stipulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the next 50 y if current trends continue.”

The original study “Salting our freshwater lakes” can be found here, http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/04/04/1620211114

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By:Chloride Conscious

Links to the cited studies for this article. Salting our freshwater lakes