Road salt pollutes lake in one of the largest US protected areas, new study shows

phys.org | 11/15/2019 | Staff
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New research shows road salt runoff into Mirror Lake in Adirondack Park prevents natural water turnover and therefore poses a risk to the balance of its ecology.

In a new study published in Lake and Reservoir Management, researchers from the Ausable River Association and the Adirondack Watershed Institute monitored the water quality of Mirror Lake.

Road - Spring - Mixing - Water - Column

They found that road salt runoff prevented spring mixing of the water column, creating more anoxic water conditions that limited habitat availability of the native lake trout. This finding could also potentially provide insight into how other urban lakes in the New York State may respond to road salt pollution.

"Mirror Lake is the first in the Adirondack Park to show an interruption in lake turnover due to road salt", says Dr. Brendan Wiltse from Ausable River Association, who led the study.

Mirror - Lake - Village - Lake - Placid

Mirror Lake, located in the Village of Lake Placid, is the most developed lake within the Adirondack Park—a publicly protected area greater than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined.

Like many northern temperate lakes, Mirror Lake experiences 'dimictic' turnover—a natural process where wind and less stratified water conditions (layers of different temperature and density) of spring and fall allows mixing of the water column that redistributes oxygen and nutrients throughout the lake.

Levels - Chloride - Mirror - Lake - Part

High levels of surface-water chloride were first noticed in Mirror Lake in 2014 when it was surveyed as part of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program, and so the following year, Wiltse and colleagues began monitoring Mirror Lake more intensely.

Bi-weekly measurements of dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, temperature and pH was collected at 1-meter intervals at the point of maximum depth (18 m) from December 2015 through to January 2018. Sampling continued at monthly intervals when the lake was ice covered, but bi-weekly sampling was resumed as soon as possible to capture both spring and fall...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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