Chloride concentration in streams should be a concern to everyone. However, projecting problems at century’s end based on the present rate of chloride increase is bad science. Salt use in some New England areas has roughly doubled in the past decade due to a change in winter highway-maintenance philosophy. But salt is expensive and there is no foreseeable need to increase salt use beyond current levels. Chloride concentration in water bodies should plateau at the current level, not increase at a rate averaged over the past decade. I do have concern about chloride concentrations in the pristine lakes and streams of our beautiful state. However, I am also concerned about knee-jerk public reactions based on wild projections rather than sound science.

Gregory H. Brown
Waterville, Maine

Chloride concentrations are increasing because of both increased use per kilometer of road and increasing development (more highways). Even if highway departments maintain current rates of use, chlorides will increase in some areas because there will be more roads .—S. Perkins

From the Nature Index

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