Monday, January 13, 2014

Road salt contaminating our waters

There was a recent article discussing the long-lasting effect of road salt on our water bodies ("Rivers in wintry cities remain salty year-round"). A University of Minnesota study indicates that some lakes can double in salinity in 50 years! Yikes!

Reminder tips on ways to reduce salt and still maintain safe pavements:
1) Clear the area of as much snow and ice as possible. Clearing snow is best done right after snowfall as compacted from walking/driving is very difficult to remove.
2) Pay attention to the products you are using. There are a variety of salts other than sodium chloride (NaCl) such as magnesium chloride (MgCl2). MgCl2 also has the added bonus of not being palatable to deer. There are many other deicing options (cheese brine, anyone?).
3) Pre-wetting salt can immediately begin to lower the melting point of water. Applying liquid salt can also reduce the amount of salt that bounces off and scatters away.
4) Sodium Chloride is not effective at temperatures below 15 degrees F. There wouldn't really be any benefit to salting at extremely low temperatures.
5) Never use more than 4 lbs/1000 square ft
6) Sweep up any excess salt for reuse
7) Do not apply salt with sand. Sand should be used for traction at lower temperatures when salt won't deice.
8) More good info from the MN Pollution Control Agency: here

It only takes 1 teaspoon to pollute 5 gallons of water!

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