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Chloride Levels in Local Waterways

Chloride levels were tested and monitored in several local waterways after the first snow melt. This data shows how the use of street salts during winter can impact local waterways.

Various waterways in Davenport, Iowa

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • What is happening in the springtime in local waterways?
  • Why are the chlorine levels changing in the springtime in local waterways?

Classroom Suggestions

  • Along with the slides above, also utilize the data, found here.

  • The idea is that students can examine the chloride data and then determine that the values are due to the salt used on the roads during the wintertime. Students can then research the effects of chloride on local ecosystems and then develop a solution to mitigate these effects.

  • It may be possible in your area to work with local public works departments to examine their salt distribution equipment and make modifications. If this is not possible, models or simulations could be tested by the students in the classroom.

Related Resources

Iowa Core Alignment

Life Science
High School (9-12)
Disciplinary Core Idea
LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

Credit Info

Submitted by Laura McCreery

Aerial images created using the EPA watermaps.


Have you used this resource in your classroom? Do you have ideas for improvement? Share your ideas, experiences and feedback about this phenomena.

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