Documentation and Prediction of Increasing Groundwater Chloride in the Twin Cities, Minnesota

John R. McDaris, Joshua M. Feinberg, Anthony C Runkel, Jonathan Levine, Sophie Kasahara, E. Calvin Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We provide a comprehensive overview of historic chloride concentrations in the groundwater of the Twin Cities metropolitan area (TCMA) in Minnesota, in order to define the extent of chloride contamination, due primarily to the seasonal application of deicing salt to roadways. Data collected from 1278 wells between 1965 and 2020 are representative of the major aquifers underlying the TCMA and establish a regional natural background chloride concentration of less than 10 mg/L. However, 55% of all measurements (1616 of 2943) are above 10 mg/L, with the highest concentrations found within the uppermost Quaternary aquifers. Chloride concentrations in underlying bedrock aquifers are negatively correlated with the thickness and clay composition of overlying materials. Most chloride measurements (92%) remain below chronic exposure limits set by state and federal authorities. Historical trends indicate that, if the current imbalance between chloride inputs and outflows persists, chloride concentrations in TCMA aquifers will surpass regulatory thresholds by midcentury as surface waters and Quaternary aquifer waters migrate into underlying bedrock aquifers. Most wells in this study are monitored annually, making it impossible to detect important sub-annual fluctuations of chloride concentration that can exceed 40%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-850
Number of pages14
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Partial support for the graduate work of McDaris has been provided by the families of Subir Banerjee and Richard Clarence Dennis through fellowships awarded by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (2020 and 2021, respectively), as well as the Gill Gabanski Scholarship (2020) from the Minnesota Groundwater Association.

Funding Information:
Levine is grateful to the Colgate University Faculty Research Council for a Picker Fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Groundwater published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Ground Water Association.


  • Groundwater
  • Cities
  • Chlorides
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Minnesota
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical/analysis
  • Documentation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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