In the Twin Cities metro area, the level of salt (chloride) in 39 surface waters now exceeds water quality standards. An additional 38 surface waters are almost above the standard and many others remain untested. The data shows that salt concentrations are continuing to increase in both surface waters and groundwater across the state.
The fact is that it only takes one teaspoon of road salt to permanently pollute 5 gallons of water. Once in the water, there is no way to remove the chloride. At high concentrations, chloride can harm fish, aquatic plant life, groundwater and drinking water supplies.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has partnered with local and state experts in the 7- County Twin Cities Metropolitan Area to create a responsible and strategic plan for managing salt use to protect our water resources. Solutions aim to find the right balance to ensure both clean water and safe winter travel. Communities are encouraged to create their own road salt management plan and hire certified contactors who have passed the MPCA Snow and Ice Control Best Practices Certification.
Here’s how you can keep salt out of our lakes and rivers:
- Apply liquid de-icer before snowfall to prevent snow and ice from building up
- Shovel, snow blow, plow or sweep to minimize ice build up
- Less is more when it comes to salt, use less than 1 pound for ever 25 feet of driveway or 250 feet of sidewalk
- Consider using sand, especially when temperatures fall below 15 degrees Fahrenheit