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As part of water-quality data collection activities in New England, water samples are analyzed for chloride in monitoring networks and projects across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Chloride is of interest because high concentrations may affect aquatic life in streams or affect water quality of reservoirs and aquifers used for drinking water.
Chloride concentrations in streams in forested areas in New England tend to be low, as there are limited geological sources of chloride. However, in recent years U.S. Geological Survey studies have documented increasing chloride concentrations and loads in streams in New England (Savoie and others, 2017; Mullaney, 2016). The increases in chloride concentrations and loads can be attributed to the following sources: deicing salts applied to public roads and private property, and discharges from wastewater treatment facilities and on-site septic systems. Less important sources include atmospheric deposition, the use of salts for water softening, and potassium chloride in agricultural fertilizers (Mullaney and others, 2009). Salt for deicing is the largest end use of salt in the United States (Bolen, 2021).
Recent and historical data for active water-quality monitoring stations on streams in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island can be viewed at https://newengland.water.usgs.gov/web_app/chloride/Clmap.html.
Bolen, W.P., 2021, 2017 minerals yearbook—Salt [Advance Release]: U.S. Geological Survey, accessed on November 1, 2021 at https://prd-wret.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets/palladium/production/atoms/files/myb1-2017-salt.pdf.
Mullaney, J.R., 2016, Nutrient, organic carbon, and chloride concentrations and loads in selected Long Island Sound tributaries—Four decades of change following the passage of the Federal Clean Water Act: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5189, 47 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155189.
Mullaney, J.R., Lorenz, D.L., Arntson, A.D., 2009, Chloride in groundwater and surface water in areas underlain by the glacial aquifer system, northern United States: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5086, 41 p., https://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2009/5086.
Savoie, J.G., Mullaney, J.R., and Bent, G.C., 2017, Analysis of trends of water quality and streamflow in the Blackstone, Branch, Pawtuxet, and Pawcatuck Rivers, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, 1979 to 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5178, 43 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20165178.
View recent and historical chloride and specific conductance data for active water-quality monitoring stations on streams in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.