Virginia Tech researchers find road salt is contaminating groundwater

Salt not being effectively absorbed

BLACKSBURG, Va. – New research from Virginia Tech shows road salts commonly used in the winter to melt ice and keep roads clear could be contaminating water.

The findings show salts aren’t being effectively absorbed, allowing them to reach groundwater and wells.

Researchers said that the salt can change the taste and color of water in wells.

"We need to pay attention to how we deliver the salt to the roads, be more effective. The things that people are concentrating on is reducing use, both at the state and county levels, and then, also, what other substances might we use to eliminate freezing conditions on roads," Virginia Tech Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation head Joel Snodgrass said.

Snodgrass said the contamination could hurt people on low-sodium diets, cause pipe corrosion and harm wildlife living in affected water.