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Fact Sheet 2013–3011

Prepared in cooperation with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Concentrations of Chloride and Sodium in Groundwater in New Hampshire From 1960 Through 2011

By Laura Medalie

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (4.94 MB)Introduction

Several studies from the 1970s and more recently (for example, Hall (1975), Daley and others (2009) and Mullaney (2009)) have found that concentrations of chloride and sodium in groundwater in New Hampshire have increased during the past 50 years. Increases likely are related to road salt and other anthropogenic sources, such as septic systems, wastewater, and contamination from landfills and salt-storage areas. According to water-quality data reported to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), about 100 public water systems (5 percent) in 2010 had at least one groundwater sample with chloride concentrations that were equal to or exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) of 250 mg/L before the water was treated for public consumption. The SMCL for chloride is a measurement of potential cosmetic or aesthetic effects of chloride in water. High concentrations of chloride and sodium in drinking-water sources can be costly to remove.

A new cooperative study between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the NHDES (Medalie, 2012) assessed chloride and sodium levels in groundwater in New Hampshire from the 1960s through 2011. The purpose of the study was to integrate all data on concentrations of chloride and sodium from groundwater in New Hampshire available from various Federal and State sources, including from the NHDES, the New Hamsphire Department of Health and Human Services, the USGS, and the U.S. Environmental Protection SurveyAgency (USEPA), for public and private (domestic) wells and to organize the data into a database. Medalie (2012) explained the many assumptions and limitations of disparate data that were collected to meet wide-ranging objectives. This fact sheet summarizes the most important findings of the data.

First posted February 28, 2013

For additional information contact:
Office Chief
U.S. Geological Survey
New England Water Science Center
New Hampshire-Vermont Office
331 Commerce Way, Suite 2
Pembroke, NH 03275

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Suggested citation:

Medalie, Laura, 2013, Concentrations of chloride and sodium in groundwater in New Hampshire from 1960 through 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2013–3011, 2 p., available only at



Overview of Significant Findings

Selected References

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