Increasing Salinity Found in Stock Water During 2021 Drought

Tracking by a team of researchers at South Dakota Mines shows an alarming increase in salinity content of stock water dams during the 2021 drought. The team has been monitoring 70 stock dams across 12 watersheds in two northwestern South Dakota counties over the past two years. During the drought, salinity has increased enough in some water to cause adverse health effects for livestock and wildlife, even to the point of being lethal in a few cases. In the Upper Great Plans, stock dams are often located in soils formed from ancient seafloor. These soils can contain elevated amounts of remaining salts from the evaporated seawater. These salts are dissolved and transported downstream to collect in stock dams, riparian areas, and other low-lying regions. Over time the salts accumulate and become more and more concentrated.