Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Joshua Galster


Road salt application is a primary factor leading to the salinization of freshwater rivers and streams throughout the Northeastern United States and globally. Rising salinization within fresh water bodies is problematic because it can modify community structure and detritus processing within freshwater ecosystems, induce mortality among macroinvertebrates and other aquatic life, and mobilize metals that can pose harm to human health. Road salts also threaten surface and underground drinking water supplies, kill riparian vegetation, and corrode infrastructure, such as bridges and roads. This research examines 4 1⁄2 years of continuous water quality monitoring data collected from two sensor stations along the Paulins Kill River in Newton, New Jersey to assess the seasonal impact that road salt is having on the river. Specific conductance and depth were examined during each season. The data showed that if precipitation fell when air temperatures were above freezing, conductivity and depth exhibited an inverse relationship. The additional freshwater from rainwater diluted the concentration of ions in the river, causing conductivity measurements to decrease as the river depth rose. When precipitation occurred when air temperatures were below freezing, however, conductivity levels rose along with the river’s depth because road departments were applying road salt to Newton’s streets. This research provides important implications for winter road management by public works departments and their impacts on local rivers.


A Master's Capstone Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in sustainability science with a concentration in sustainability leadership.

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