In her lab, Tara Kneeshaw can measure the cumulative effect on water from routine daily actions: Eating an especially salty dinner, dumping out the flavored coffee that went cold in the cup, emptying the mop bucket.
Kneeshaw, a geochemist and assistant professor of geology, has dedicated her career to improving water quality by studying what we can't see.
She said it is easy to see how some large-scale scenarios affect water quality, like road salt runoff. But she is quick to point out an increase in salinity over time in the Great Lakes as well as other waterways can also be attributed to salt that goes through wastewater treatment plants.
What we put down the drain or in the ground counts, Kneeshaw said. And it's also a good reminder that the water system is all connected.