Chloride Impact Study for the Southeastern Wisconsin Region


This project is an with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) to conduct a study of the introduction of chloride in the environment and of the environmental impacts of such introduction within Southeastern Wisconsin. Chloride loads to surface and groundwater resources can potentially come from several significant sources, including road salt applied for anti-icing and deicing of public and private roads, sidewalks and parking lots; water softening systems and other sources that discharge to sanitary sewers or private onsite wastewater treatment systems; salt storage areas; large agricultural feed lots; fertilizers; landfills; chemical manufacturing, and food processing. The study will consider the relative magnitudes of chloride loads to the environment from those sources, and any other significant sources identified during the course of the study. Salt applied to roads is the most visible of the potential chloride sources, and thus, receives the most public attention.


Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) will conduct a study of the introduction of chloride in the environment and of the environmental impacts of such introduction within Southeast Wisconsin. The study would provide a comprehensive inventory of the historic and present sources of chloride loads to surface and groundwater resources; an assessment of the impacts of these loads on the environment, and in particular on the surface water and groundwater resources of Southeast Wisconsin; development of a state-of-the-art component addressing current research and emerging technologies and policies related to mitigating the environmental effects of chloride from multiple sources; identification of alternative means of achieving desired levels of management of sources of chloride; and the formulation of recommendations for abatement of the undesirable environmental impacts of the use of chloride. Surface water monitoring is not part of this grant and it's supplied funds, but through other funding sources, SEWRPC will be monitoring surface waters in the SE Wisconsin area. They will be collecting 40 surface water samples each month. They will be testing for chloride, sulfate, hardness, potassium, and sodium.

Study Design

The study is proposed to employ a five step process: 1) detailed study design, 2) formulation of pertinent surface water and groundwater objectives and standards, 3) inventory, 4) analyses and forecasts, and 5) preparation of study findings and recommendations. The study will be carried out by staff of SEWRPC under the guidance of a Technical Advisory Committee composed of members from County and Municipal public works departments, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Transportation, the Wisconsin Geologic and Natural History Survey, the Marquette University Law School, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The conduct of the study would require the cooperation of the State, county, and municipal units and agencies of government responsible for winter road maintenance.

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