Loudoun Wildlife’s Stream Team is tripling the size of its Salt Watch program, which focuses on monitoring the extent of road salt pollution in local waterways. Last year, nine volunteers collected over 100 chloride readings at 14 different stream sites around the county. Last year’s data showed that over 70 percent of these 14 sites had elevated or toxic chloride levels at some point during the winter.
This year, 35 volunteers are trained and ready to conduct chloride testing at 43 different stream sites. These volunteers include high school students, families and adults of all ages.
Nineteen people recently attended a virtual Salt Watch Kickoff program hosted by Loudoun Wildlife in partnership with the Izaak Walton League of America. The program focused on the problems associated with road salt pollution and how folks can get involved at a local level by collecting chloride data to support advocacy efforts for smarter salting practices.
Volunteers are provided with free chloride test kits by the Izaak Walton League of America. They are using these kits now to determine the baseline chloride levels in local streams – before any winter road treatments. Then when the first winter storm hits, they’ll take three more readings: one after the roads have been treated, one on the first warm day after the winter weather event, and finally one after a rain event following the winter weather event. The testing only takes a few minutes for each event, but provides important information about the extent of chloride pollution in area streams.
The program currently has sites along Cattail Branch, Town Branch, Tuscarora Creek, Goose Creek, Sycolin Creek and Dry Mill Branch in the Leesburg area, and other streams in the county including the South Fork of the Catoctin in Purcellville, Broad Run in Aldie and Ashburn, and Beaverdam Run in Ashburn.