Assessing the Impact of Chloride Deicer Application in the Siskiyou Pass, Southern Oregon

Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5091
Prepared in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Transportation
By: , and 



Chloride deicers have been applied by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to Interstate Route 5 (I–5) from the Oregon-California border north to mile marker 10 for several years in the high-elevation area known as the Siskiyou Pass. Magnesium chloride (MgCl2) and sodium chloride (NaCl) are applied to keep the interstate highway safe for drivers and allow for efficient transport of goods and people through adverse weather conditions, particularly snow and ice. The U.S. Geological Survey entered into a cooperative agreement with ODOT to research the effects of chloride deicers in the Carter and Wall Creek watersheds that drain the vicinity of the Siskiyou Pass.

The Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) was used to estimate combinations of prestorm-streamflow, stormflow, highway-runoff, and event mean constituent concentrations (EMCs), as well as stormwater-constituent loads at sites of interest. The study evaluated the effects of roadway application of chloride deicers on downstream and highway-runoff conditions (particularly EMCs), exceedance rates of criterion maximum concentrations, and concurrent runoff loads of stormwater constituents from a site of interest. SELDM was also used to evaluate the efficiency of hydrograph extension best management practices to reduce peak constituent concentrations. Several SELDM scenarios were developed as sensitivity analyses to evaluate the model benefit of collecting specific local sets of data, such as streamflow, precipitation, highway-runoff and riverine water-quality samples, and volumetric runoff coefficient statistics.

Results of the study showed that for SELDM modeling in the Siskiyou Pass area, (1) the inclusion of local streamflow data is important for obtaining accurate downstream EMCs, (2) the inclusion of precipitation data is important for highway and concurrent runoff load calculations, and (3) water-quality constituent EMC data from highway runoff and upstream stormflows are the most important data to collect for highway runoff and upstream water-quality constituent concentration statistics.

Suggested Citation

Stonewall, A.J., Yates, M.C., and Granato, G.E., 2022, Assessing the impact of chloride deicer application in the Siskiyou Pass, southern Oregon: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2022–5091, 94 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • SELDM Background
  • Hydrologic Setting
  • Acquisition of Local Hydrological and Meteorological Data
  • Regional Background Concentrations of Chloride, Magnesium, and Sodium
  • Development of SELDM Scenarios
  • SELDM Results
  • Limitations of the Analyses
  • Summary
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Assessing the impact of chloride deicer application in the Siskiyou Pass, southern Oregon
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2022-5091
DOI 10.3133/sir20225091
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New England Water Science Center, Oregon Water Science Center
Description Report: xii, 93 p.; Data Release; 4 Tables
Country United States
State Oregon
Other Geospatial Siskiyou Pass
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details