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Chloride and bacteria are water quality pollutants of increasing concern in Scott County.



In the winter, chloride in the form of rock salt or brine is used to deice sidewalks, roads, and driveways.  When the snow melts in the spring, all the salt that was put down is carried into local waterbodies.  Salt is also entering our waterbodies from the discharge of in-home water softener systems.  All this salt is becoming a problem as it only takes 1 teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute five gallons of water.  Once the salt dissolves in the water, it is very difficult to remove.  Salt in lakes and streams are a problem for aquatic habitat because fresh water species cannot tolerate high levels of chloride and lake turnover is affected.  Salt also makes its way into our drinking water supply. 

Chloride pollution from winter salt is not just a future threat; it is already here in Scott County.  Credit River, Raven Stream, and Sand Creek do not currently meet Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s chloride water quality standard.


Credit River is among the three streams in Scott County that does not meet the water quality standard for chloride.


What Can You Do To Help?

The Scott Watershed Management Organization (SWMO) has partnered with the Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR) through the Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment to offer FREE training events that teach snow and ice best management practices that can save money and save our water.  Learn more about upcoming training opportunities for 2019!

Sprinkle, don't pour.

Large salt granules melt a few inches of ice, so sidewalk salt should be scattered about 2-3 inches apart.  Additional salt just adds unnecessary pollution.

Sweep up extra salt.

If there are still salt granules on your sidewalk and driveway once the ice has melted and the sidewalk is dry, sweep up the salt!  You can use it after the next storm, plus it won’t get washed into our waters.

Only put down salt when temperatures are warm enough for it to work.

Pure rock salt (sodium chloride) can only melt ice if the pavement is above 15 degrees Fahrenheit.  If the pavement surface is colder than that, no melting will occur and the salt will just get blown away.  At colder temperatures sand can be used for traction on the ice, or you can use de-icers that work at colder temperatures.

Wear appropriate winter footwear.

Don’t expect every sidewalk to be as clear and dry as it is in the summer.  Put on those boots and be tolerant of safe amounts of snow on the sidewalk.

Drive with care this winter.

Leave yourself extra time to get to your destination in the winter, don’t drive when you don’t have to, and consider putting snow tires on your vehicle for the winter for better traction.

Install an efficient water softener that uses less salt.

Even if the water that does down your drain goes to a waste water treatment plant, the chloride does not get filtered out, so your softener salt stays in the water.

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Eagle Creek is among the many streams in Scott County that does not meet the water quality standard for bacteria.


Bacteria is an additional pollutant impacting Scott County waters.  The sources of E. coli are thought to originate from improperly managed livestock waste (feedlots and manure spreading), failing septic systems, untreated urban stormwater, and wildlife.

In Scott County multiple streams do not meet Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s water quality standard for bacteria (E. coli) including Big Possum Creek, Credit River, Eagle Creek, Porter Creek, Raven Stream, Robert Creek, Sand Creek, and Brewery Creek.


What Can You Do To Help?

Make sure your septic system is functioning properly.

If you septic system is failing it could be contaminating ground water or a nearby lake or stream.  More information on septic system inspections and compliance can be found here.

Pick up after pets.

Bacteria from animal waste, including E. coli, are a growing water quality concern and pet waste is a large contributor.  Pet waste does not just disappear.  When left on the lawn, rain water will break it apart and wash it into a local waterbody.  Even if you don’t live near a lake or stream, the waste will make its way into our waterbodies through stormdrains.  To help combat bacteria pollution, collect pet waste in plastic bags and place it in the trash. 

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Soil & Water Conservation District