Did you know that our creeks and lakes get polluted during our winter months? Since the early 1950’s, our metro area waters have become increasingly salty. Chloride (salt) levels in our water have become so high that many metro area creeks are now considered unhealthy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency standards, Nine Mile Creek is unhealthy due to high chloride levels.
Photo by Phil Romans
Chlorides are applied on our roads, sidewalks and parking lots to melt ice. However, once dissolved in water, the salty mixture goes directly to our creeks and lakes from our streets and homes via our storm drain system. Salt is not an easy element to remove from our waters and has detrimental effects. Salt harms plants and animals, contaminates our drinking water, damages buildings, and corrodes vehicles, roads and bridges. Too much salt results in costly damages and serious environmental consequences. Even if your bag of deicer says environmentally friendly it does not mean it is friendly to our waters especially, if the word chloride is listed in the ingredients.
Here are some tips this winter to keep your roads and sidewalks safe, and our waters healthy:
Before the storm, apply a liquid deicer before snow storms to prevent snow and ice from building up. This is not a substitute for shoveling; it just makes it more effective.
Shovel that snow. Shoveling, snow blowing, plowing and/or sweeping are all effective measures that will remove snow and minimize ice build-up.
Less is better. When applying salt, if there are leftover crystals still visible then the salt has been over-applied. The left-over salt can be swept up and reused or disposed of in the trash.
Temperature matters. At low temperatures, salt begins to become less effective. When the temperature falls below 15F consider using small amounts of sand for traction. Make a difference this winter; help us keep salt out of our waters!
Photo by Fortin Consulting