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The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is evaluating alternative treatments for road deicing with the goal of reducing the impact of this activity on the State’s water resources. The NYSDOT has requested support from the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) in monitoring the effects of these alternative treatments on the water resources. In the past, the USGS has cooperated with State transportation agencies in studies to evaluate road-deicer concentrations in Massachusetts (Church and others, 1996; Granato and Smith, 1999; and Smith and Granato, 2010) and to determine the impacts on water resources in Ohio and Indiana that included the application of surface-and borehole-geophysical technologies (Risch and Robinson, 2001; Watson and others, 2002; and Kunze and Sroka, 2004). A USGS-State cooperative study in Massachusetts (Church and others, 1996) evaluated engineering methods to mitigate the impact of road deicing on groundwater through well-cluster monitoring and electromagnetic-induction logging (figs. 1 and 2). A current USGS-State cooperative study in Massachusetts is monitoring road-salt runoff and pavement conditions using automated sampling techniques and road-weather sensor technologies (figs. 3a.3b).
As a pilot demonstration, the NYSDOT has identified road sections for abrasive and low-salt treatments along State Route 86 between Lake Placid and Wilmington, and a control section with typical deicing treatment along State Route 35 (fig. 4). Exploratory wells drilled by the NYSDOT in the right of way of the road sections penetrated coarse-grained alluvial-glacial deposits overlying bedrock at depths of less than 5 to more than 35 feet below land surface. The depth to the water table at the drill sites was less than 10 feet from land surface.
Figure 1. Design of a groundwater monitoring network for a USGS-State cooperative
road-deicing study in Massachusetts
Figure 2. Example of electromagnetic-induction logs and water-quality results from well
clusters upgradient and downgradient of road section monitored for a USGS-State
cooperative road-deicing study in Massachusetts (from Church and Friesz, 1993b)
Figures 3a,3b. Highway station and intstrumentation to
monitor runoff flow and quality and road conditions for a
current USGS-State cooperative road-deicing study in
Figure 4. Location of alternative road-deicing treatments,
exploratory wells, and proposed groundwater surface-water
Figure 5. Proposed specifications for monitoring-well cluster installation
The objectives of the proposed study are to evaluate the effectiveness of abrasive and low-salt road-deicing treatments in reducing chloride concentrations and loads in the surface-water and groundwater systems, and to provide the NYSDOT with data to help them evaluate the effectiveness of alternative winter roadway maintenance methods.
The USGS proposes to establish and maintain a water-resource and road-runoff monitoring network through the integrated application of highway-runoff drain and cluster-well water sampling, electromagnetic surveying and logging, and road-weather sensor technology. The study approach builds upon previous and current Federal-State cooperative road-salt studies and applies state-of-the-art water-resource and geophysical methods. The proposed approach is summarized, by task, as follows:
Church, P. E. and Friesz, P.J., 1993a, Effectiveness of highway drainage systems in preventing road-salt contamination of ground water: Preliminary findings, Transportation Research Record No. 1420, Transportation Research Board.
_____1993b, Delineation of a road-salt plume in groundwater, and travel time measurements for estimating hydraulic conductivity by use of borehole-induction logs: in Fifth International Symposium on Geophysics for Minerals, Geotechnical, and Environmental Applications Proceedings, p. Yl-Y 16.
Church, P.E., Armstrong, D.S., Granato, G.E., Stone, V.J., Smith, K.P., and Provencher, P.L., 1996, Effectiveness of highway-drainage systems in preventing contamination of ground water by road salt, Route 25, southeastern Massachusetts--description of study area, data collection programs, and methodology, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 96-317, 72 p.
Granato, G.E., and Smith, K.P., 1999, Estimating concentrations of road-salt constituents in highway-runoff from measurements of specific conductance: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 99–4077,22 p. [Also available at https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri994077.]
Kunze, A. E. and Sroka, B. N. 2004, Effects of highway deicing chemicals on shallow unconsolidated aquifers in Ohio—Final report: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 04-5150, 187 p.
Smith, K.P., and Granato, G.E., 2010, Quality of stormwater runoff discharged from Massachusetts highways, 2005–07: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5269, 198 p., CD–R. [Also available at https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/sir20095269.]
Risch, M.R. and Robinson, B.A., 2001, Use of borehole and surface geophysics to investigate ground-water quality near a road-deicing salt-storage facility, Valparaiso, Indiana: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 00-4070, 65 p. https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri004070
Watson, L. R., Bayless, E. R., Buszka, P. M., and Wilson, J. T., 2002, Effects of highway-deicer application on ground-water quality in a part of the Calumet Aquifer, northwestern Indiana, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4260, 148 p.