Winter Road Salt Monitoring

Thanks to our dedicated 2022 – 2023 volunteers for a great, though unusual, first monitoring season. Due to River Watcher efforts, we were able to collect 56 data samples for 12 Lower PKW locations and 144 data samples for 23 Upper PKW locations.  

See 2022-2023 Results for a PKW monitoring location near you.

Coming this Fall 2023 – the “Road Salt Results Webinar.” Stay tuned!

About this Program: This is a citizen science program in which we will learn how much road salt is getting into the Paulins Kill River, tributaries, lakes and ponds. Road salt applications are impacting New Jersey towns and across our nation at this time. NJDEP and The Watershed Institute are providing us with this opportunity to monitor the waters in the Paulins Kill Watershed. Sharing road salt data with these organizations may lead to improved application methods that can ensure healthy drinking water, sustain our natural resources while also keeping our roads safe.

Why Your Help is Needed: Road salt applications in parking lots and road ways travel into our surface waterways, and infiltrate into our soils and wells. This journey has many impacts that worsen as salt concentrations increase. You may have heard about the release of lead from pipes, and the corrosion of vehicles and infrastructure. Tragically, our aquatic life and ecosystems become impaired and organisms begin to die, land plants cannot absorb needed nutrients, lake and pond algal blooms are charged with phosphorus for growth, and people even injure themselves by slipping on road salt! Read more about these impacts.

How You Can Help:  Once you have filled out the registration form we will contact you and answer more questions that you may have. We can schedule a virtual meeting or a visit to your site where we can get a baseline measurement and I can show you how to submit it to The Watershed Institute. Hands on learning!


The first step is to select a site that is convenient and safe to monitor.  Perhaps this is where a familiar road crosses a stream or a parking lot that slopes into a storm drain near a lake.  If you are not sure about a site then a site can also be recommended to you. We can visit this site together.

The next step is to watch the weather for an imminent snow storm. When the snow event looks pretty certain, it is time to get ready to sample both before and after the snow storm. Within 24 hours before the storm and 72 hours after the storm, get ready with your cell phone, test strip, a small, clear plastic cup and your concentration chart.

Once at your location, rinse the cup 3 times and collect 1/2 inch of water. Place a test strip vertically in the cup and wait 5 – 10 minutes for a dark horizontal stripe to show at the top of the strip. Find the tip of the white point that formed on the strip and record the reading next to it. Use the concentration chart to determine the chloride ion concentration. Take a picture of your test strip next to the concentration chart and a photo of your location if you wish.  Send the data result and photo(s) to The Watershed Institute with your cell phone:

The form you will fill out looks like this:

You as a citizen scientist are immeasurably valuable by collecting road salt data.  You are the only source of information that can alert your communities to the presence of dangerously high levels of chloride that will negatively impact so many things!  Thank you for participating!