Thank you to all the citizen scientists who have participated so far in the 2021 road salt impact study! Our monitoring project is ongoing, but we are no longer fulfilling orders for chloride test strips this season. Road salt use and freshwater salinization in New Jersey have increased over the past decade by so much that we continue to see the effects of winter road salt in the spring, summer, and fall. Elevated chloride levels may continue in our freshwater resources for some time, so please continue to use up your chloride test strips! 

The goal of this project is to engage citizen scientists to assess the impacts of winter road salting on our freshwater streams and lakes. Volunteers collect at least 4-6 measurements from their monitoring site, with 2-3 samples collected during dry conditions (at least 72 hours since the last runoff event) and 2-3 samples collected during or within 48 hours of rain, snow, or snowmelt. We want to measure how much chloride levels, a constituent of road salt, in our freshwater systems change each winter.

Volunteers may select any freshwater stream, river, lake, or pond of interest to them. We just ask that you continue to monitor at the same site throughout the project period, from December to March. Testing takes about 10-15 minutes tops, so many of our volunteers make a stop at several sites during each monitoring event!

Measuring the Impacts of Road Salt:
Chloride Levels in New Jersey

Chloride Test Procedures with Hach Chloride Test Strip

  1. Find a clean small glass or plastic cup.
  2. Using water from the stream, rinse out your cup 3 times.
  3. Fill the cup with about an inch of stream water. (The test will not work if the top half of the test strip is submerged.)
  4. Place the chloride test strip into the cup with the “quantab” label at the top.
  5. Leave the strip sitting in the cup until the horizontal orange line at the top turns a dark blue or black (up to 10 minutes).
  6. Take a picture of your test strip on a white background on the card provided. Include a photo of the conversion chart as well, because these differ depending on the specific test strip you are using!
  7. To read the test strip, locate where the tip of the white peak falls on the scale. You can convert these units to parts per million (ppm) with the table below.
  8. Upload your picture and data to the NJ Watershed Watch Network.
  9. Thank you!

Thank you to the Izaak Walton League of America Winter Salt Watch Program for sharing their methods!

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