Chloride is a water quality pollutant 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 nearly impossible 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?

Shovel first!

Shoveling is the best way to prevent salt pollution since it clears sidewalks and driveways without having to use any salt. Shovel right after a snow event for the best results.

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.

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.

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952-492-5425  |  |  7151 W 190th St, Jordan, MN 55352

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Soil & Water Conservation District