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Temporal changes in sulfate, chloride, and sodium concentrations in four eastern Pennsylvania streams

Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4074

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Abstract

Trend analyses of 20 years or more of chemical quality and streamflow data for four streams in eastern Pennsylvania indicate that sulfate has decreased significantly in three of the four basins studied, while sodium and chloride have generally increased. The majority of chemical quality changes occurred in the late 1950 's and early 1960 's coincident with significant cultural changes. It is believed that these chemical quality changes are presently of little or no environmental consequence, as the concentrations are well within the range of those found in natural waters. Decreases in sulfate follow a regional trend concurrent with the conversion of home and industrial heating units from high to low sulfur coal, gas, and oil. The most significant decreases were observed in those basins severely affected by mine-drainage where pumpage has decreased significantly in the past 25 years, thereby further reducing the sulfur content of the streams. The observed increases in chloride and sodium are attributed to population increases and shifts from rural to suburban communities with concurrent increase in the percentage of the population using municipal waste treatment facilities and the increased use of salt on roadways. The concentrations of dissolved chloride, which are from two to three times higher in recent years, reach a peak in January, coincident with the application of salt to melt ice on the roadways. (USGS)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Temporal changes in sulfate, chloride, and sodium concentrations in four eastern Pennsylvania streams
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
85-4074
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1986
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
iv, 22 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.