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Groundwater chloride concentrations in domestic wells and proximity to roadways in Vermont, 2011–2018

April 8, 2020

The Vermont Department of Health and the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed the concentrations of chloride in groundwater samples collected from 4,319 domestic wells across Vermont between 2011 and 2018. Ninety of these wells were sampled twice and the remaining 4,229 were sampled once. This sample size represents approximately 4 percent of all wells in the State of Vermont. More than half of the wells sampled statewide had groundwater chloride concentrations less than 5 milligrams per liter, whereas more than 1 percent had groundwater concentrations greater than 250 milligrams per liter. Statistical analysis of this dataset revealed distinct patterns in the distribution of chloride in domestic wells. Wells closer (less than 100 meters) to a paved road had significantly higher concentrations of chloride than wells farther ( more than 100 meters) away. Also, wells in urban and in high population density areas, particularly Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties, had significantly higher concentrations of chloride and exhibited greater change in concentrations of chloride over time than wells in less populated areas. This evaluation addresses the distribution of chloride concentrations across the State, which may have adverse health impacts from water infrastructure corrosion and implications for deicing salt application at the State and local levels.