Those salt trucks are a lifesaver when it's icy out, but their impact could actually be harming the Hudson Valley year round.

A study released by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies shows a direct correlation between the use of rock salt and contaminated well water in the Hudson Valley. The study compiled data from 956 private drinking water wells in East Fishkill and concluded that rock salt used on roads was polluting the wells.

Over half of the East Fishkill wells that were examined exceeded US Environmental Protection Agency health standards for sodium. The amount of salt in the wells was directly influenced by their distance from nearby roads and pavement. Wells further away from roads were less likely to be contaminated with salt.

Map of salt distribution in groundwater provided by The Cary Institute/Victoria Kelly et al 2018

One surprising thing that was found in the study was that the size of the road had very little impact on how badly the wells were contaminated. Whether the well was near Route 84 or a small back road it still had the same chance of contamination.

The study shows just how much of an impact road salt has on the Hudson Valley's ecosystem. Victoria Kelly, lead author and Environmental Monitoring Program Manager at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, says the study shows municipalities need to seriously think about the way they use road salt. Kelly hopes that "more targeted approaches will keep roads safe while reducing unintended consequences to drinking water supplies.”