The road salt that makes it safer to drive in winter is causing the Muddy Branch Stream in Gaithersburg to register chloride levels above levels recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a Wootton High School senior who is spending this school year testing various chemical levels in that stream.
Benjamin Bowman has been interning 10 hours each week with the Izaak Walton League of America, a nonprofit environmental organization located along the banks of that stream.
The 17-year-old, who is a pitcher for the Wootton Patriots varsity baseball team, regularly gathers a water sample from the stream. For the first few months of his internship, the chloride level never rose above the recommended 230 parts per million levels for chloride, he said. The average readings he found between October and early December averaged around 145 parts per million.