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Effectiveness of highway-drainage systems in preventing contamination of ground water by road salt, Route 25, southeastern Massachusetts; description of study area, data collection programs, and methodology

Open-File Report 96-317

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Abstract

Four test sites along a 7-mile section of Route 25 in southeastern Massachusetts, each representing a specific highway-drainage system, were instrumented to determine the effectiveness of the drainage systems in preventing contamination of ground water by road salt. One of the systems discharges highway runoff onsite through local drainpipes. The other systems use trunkline drainpipes through which runoff from highway surfaces, shoulders, and median strips is diverted and discharged into either a local stream or a coastal waterway. Route 25 was completed and opened to traffic in the summer of 1987. Road salt was first applied to the highway in the winter of 1987-88. The study area is on a thick outwash plain composed primarily of sand and gravel. Water-table depths range from 15 to 60 feet below land surface at the four test sites. Ground-water flow is in a general southerly direction, approximately perpendicular to the highway. Streamflow in the study area is controlled primarily by ground-water discharge. Background concentrations of dissolved chloride, sodium, and calcium-the primary constituents of road salt-are similar in ground water and surface water and range from 5 to 20, 5 to 10, and 1 to 5 milligrams per liter, respectively. Data-collection programs were developed for monitoring the application of road salt to the highway, the quantity of road-salt water entering the ground water, diverted through the highway-drainage systems, and entering a local stream. The Massachusetts Highway Department monitored road salt applied to the highway and reported these data to the U.S. Geological Survey. The U.S. Geological Survey designed and operated the ground-water, highway- drainage, and surface-water data-collection programs. A road-salt budget will be calculated for each test site so that the effectiveness of the different highway-drainage systems in preventing contamination of ground water by road salt can be determined.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Effectiveness of highway-drainage systems in preventing contamination of ground water by road salt, Route 25, southeastern Massachusetts; description of study area, data collection programs, and methodology
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
96-317
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1996
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Branch of Information Services [distributor],
Description:
vi, 72 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.