Abstract

The results of an extensive hydrogeological investigation of the effects of de-icing road salts on Highway 55 near Trois-Rivières-Ouest indicate that a salt lens with chloride concentrations exceeding 800 mg/L exists below the highway. Maximum chloride concentration at the nearby pumping wells, not exceeding 140 mg/L, is reached only in late summer, whereas the maximum chloride infiltration follows the spring snowmelt. About 1 year's worth of road salts is retained in the unsaturated zone. The salt lens, in the upper part of the aquifer beneath the highway, has developed to a thickness of 8 m and a width of 400 m and constitutes a linear source of salts for the aquifer. The shape of this lens is distorted by the action of the pumping wells, and the lens is partly depleted by the end of the summer. Because of the particular characteristics of the aquifer at the site studied and the exploitation methods, no long-term threat to the water quality is foreseen.

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