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  • Writer's pictureShelby Roberts

SWCD Webinar Announcement: How to use Less Salt

Updated: May 16

The Scott SWCD and the Scott Watershed Management Organization (WMO) are partnering together to host a new, FREE Homeowner Strategies to Reduce Salt Pollution webinar!

Learn the best winter maintenance strategies to save you money, protect your property from salt damage, and keep harmful chlorides out of our waterbodies.

The event will be held via zoom on December 15th, from 6:30-7:30 PM. To register, call the Scott SWCD Education Specialist, Shelby Roberts at 952-492-5448 or click HERE to register online.

Pre-registration is required for webinar attendance.

What is Chloride Pollution?

Snow is a fact of life in Minnesota. It falls on our driveways and sidewalks, and we remove it with a snow blower or shovel, along with a possible sprinkle of road salt to do the final melting. Once the salt has dissolved and cleared our icy pavement, we usually do not think about it again—unless we notice dead grass in the spring or rust on our cars.

But did you know that road salt and deicers are doing more harm than rusting the bottom of cars? Melted water carrying Chloride from the salt is a pollutant harming our lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

Salt’s two main chemical components are sodium and chloride. Studies show that chloride from road salt in the winter is having negative effects on aquatic life. High levels of chloride are toxic to fish and the salty water disrupts entire freshwater ecosystems. Most startling of all chloride is almost impossible to filter out of a waterbody, and the process to do so is oftentimes too expensive to justify. Chloride dissolves into water where it becomes a permanent pollutant, so every winter, when salt melts downstream, chloride concentrations in our waterbodies increase.

In Scott County, Sand Creek, Raven Stream, and Credit River are all listed on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) impaired waters list for chlorides.

With so much salt being spread across Minnesota’s public roads, parking lots and sidewalks, it may feel like the amount of salt that one person spreads on their driveway, sidewalks or businesses walking surfaces could not have any impact, but it does. Just one teaspoon of salt is enough to permanently pollute five gallons of water, so if you reduce your use by one cup that saves nearly 250 gallons of water from being polluted. It all adds up, and you can be part of the prevention.

Things to Know Before it Snows

Shovel before Sprinkling. Shoveling, plowing, or blowing snow is the best way to prevent

Chloride pollution from salt. Shovel as soon as possible after a storm to prevent ice from forming and sticking.

Use alternatives to salt-example chicken grit that can be spread/sprinkled in place of salt giving traction to slippery area.

Conserve and Reuse. salt by spreading/shaking granules approximately 3 in apart. If salt is left over in the area of application and the area is dry, sweep it up and use again for the next snowfall.

Temperature is KEY. 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 get washed or blown away. You can use different types of de-icers that work at colder temperatures if necessary.

Be aware that winter in Minnesota brings snow and ice, which can pose a danger if not navigated with care. Make sure to drive cautiously by slowing down and keep up your winter car maintenance. Wear appropriate winter footwear and clothing like snow boots and remember to walk with care when you see icy patches.

By making a couple of adjustment to our winter routines, we can contribute positively and safely to water quality health. To learn more about smart salting techniques on both large and small scales, visit the Minnesota Pollution Control’s website on chloride.


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