The ability to measure environmental levels of 36Cl by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry and 3H by 3He-ingrowth Mass Spectrometry has made it possible to use the pulses of these two isotopes released into the atmosphere during nuclear weapons testing as tracers of Cl and water movement in soils and groundwater. The authors have investigated the movement of these tracers below a forested wet zone, and have found that both are retarded to a differing extent in the near surface because of vegetative uptake and recycling. Adsorption by clay particles, followed by slow release to the groundwater, may also be significant. The data accumulated in this region of near vertical recharge have gone a considerable distance towards explaining the anomalously low concentrations of 36Cl measured in the 5 Laurentian Great Lakes, as well as indicating possible mechanisms for large scale Cl- recycling in the atmosphere and biosphere. Identification of the near-term non-conservative behaviour of the Cl- is significant, since such a phenomenon could introduce errors in many watershed calculations, e.g. water residence times, evaporation rates, and mixing calculations. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.