This webpage is intended for local government unit (LGU) staff.
If you're interested in learning more, contact your local city or watershed district.
The Hennepin County Chloride Initiative (HCCI) welcomes you to Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota, an innovative new program that builds community capacity to maintain winter safety while reducing chloride-based deicer use and its associated damages through relationships with local properties managed by resident boards.
Chlorides from winter maintenance operations are a local problem. University of Minnesota research shows that 3/4 of deicers stay where they are applied, permanently impairing waters for aquatic life and human consumption. They also adversely change soil structure and prematurely age infrastructure.
Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota is a research-based program created and tested by professionals from cities and watershed organizations in Hennepin County for implementation by Local Government Units (LGUs) in their communities to build on relationships and ongoing opportunities to provide continued program support. This site is a one-stop mega-resource where you will find customizable resources for your situation.
We'd love to know who has visited the site, if you're using the materials, and if you have any feedback. Please fill out this form.
- The Hennepin County Chloride Initiative, January 2023
The leading source of chloride pollution is from deicing chemicals (salts) used for winter maintenance. Chloride damages property and the environment, harms aquatic species, and impacts drinking water quality. About 50 waterbodies in Minnesota already have dangerous chloride levels, and another 75 waterbodies are close to the danger zone. Learn more about chloride pollution from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
Once chloride is in a waterbody, there is no feasible way to remove it. It takes only one teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute five gallons of water. Further, the alternatives to chloride have other tradeoffs in cost, environmental impacts, and service. Therefore, the leading strategy for managing chloride pollution is to be smart about its use; applying it only when, where, and in the amount needed. This also means that every effort, big or small, helps reduce chloride pollution!
The Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota toolbox is intended for Local Government Units (LGUs) such as cities and watershed management organizations to deliver the program locally, increasing awareness and providing support for private landowners to help them reduce chloride pollution from their properties.
Many people believe protecting water resources is important and that education fosters positive attitudes about reducing salt use. But education about chloride pollution, by itself, may not be enough to get people to change their winter salting routines.
The ability to maintain safety while realizing
financial savings and improving sustainability
are key messages conveyed through this program.
People may be unsure of how best to reduce chloride use on their properties or how to address concerns about safety or liability. You can step into this void by offering a friendly face and simple, site-specific advice. Being the local expert on chloride pollution through the lens of water resources management doesn't mean you have to have all the answers. Cultivating a positive relationship, providing support and encouragement, humbly observing their challenges with winter maintenance, and pointing people to the right resources are the cornerstones of this program. You can play a critical role in guiding local community members to help them clear a path to savings, safety and sustainability.
Our research shows that the biggest driver of over-salting is client demand due to fear of slip and fall lawsuits.
Often, the person applying the salt knows more isn’t better, but they are reacting to their customer’s demand.
Water resource professionals led the development of and provided expertise for the Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota initiative. The team worked closely with a Minnesota marketing firm to perform interviews, develop a brand, and design materials. The primary goal of the effort was to provide a toolbox that local units of government (LGUs) may use during conversations with local residents, businesses, and property managers about best practices related to winter maintenance.
You may pull what you need from the toolbox to supplement your existing efforts or start from scratch. Tools such as the PowerPoint presentation are editable, which means they can be customized with your organization's logo and contact information.
The Low Salt, No Salt Approach
Direct contact and site-specific advice is an effective way to change behavior related to winter salt use.
Where to begin?
We recommend that you begin by reviewing the "Facilitator Guide." It provides on overview of the Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota program including its purpose, components, and suggestions for implementation.
Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota is a toolbox intended for local government unit (LGU) staff to use in their communities to reduce chloride use. All materials for program facilitation are hosted on this webpage. The facilitator guide provides an overview of the program and suggestions for use.
What you'll find inside:
Questions, comments, or interested in a facilitator training opportunity? Reach out to one of these contacts:
Laura Jester, Administrator
Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission
Liz Forbes, Communications Manager
Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District
We hope to offer a pre-recorded facilitator training in the future!
Download the Presentation (40 MB)
Customize the presentation for your organization and your audience:
Add your logo
Include your contact information
Add your own slides
Remove non-relevant slides
Social media version of video (40 seconds)
Liability and winter maintenance planning (2 min 34 sec)
Share video link with stakeholder through email
Show video during a virtual or in-person presentation
Share through social media
Embed on your website (open video link, click "Share", select "Embed" to view and copy code for inserting onto website
Site assessment questions
General discussion questions
Download the Questions (pdf)
Use these questions during your presentation or other conversation with someone about reducing use of winter de-icers.
Download the Take the Pledge form
Don't forget to ask people to fill out, sign and return the pledge form!
Giveaways can help boost your audience's committment to reducing salt use. A limited number of long-handled, commercial-grade ice scrapers are available from the Low Salt, No Salt program for LGUs in Hennepin County to use as a giveaway in your outreach efforts. For more information, email LForbes@rpbcwd.org.
Offer the pledge form at community events where you are tabling
After a presentation related to water quality, ask audience members to sign the pledge
Email the pledge directly property managers, homeowner associations, and others
Mail directly to property or business owner
The brand style guide provides typography (fonts), color names, and how to property use the logo. Note about fonts: You should be able to download Brandon Grotesque and Gotham Condensed for free online. You may need your IT department to assist you with adding fonts to your computer.
There are five color variations of the logo. All are PNG format with transparent background.
Note: White/gray and white logos will not have background color when you download.
Consider using the branding style guide when making your own handouts about chloride pollution.
Add the Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota logos to your website
Use the logos when sharing chloride pollution information on social media.
Your community may have questions about chloride pollution. The Frequently Asked Questions Handout answers some of the most common ones.
Review handout to be prepared for questions.
Provide handout to community members.
You can print these cards yourself or send the PDF file to a printing company. The second side has space to add your own contact information or logo.
Note: Having a bleed allows extra 0.125" for trimming (color bleeds beyond margin for more finished look) by a professional printing company.
Download EPS versions of the above files on the Low Salt No Salt MN Google Drive. Each image is a separate EPS file labeled "side 1" or "side 2" with descriptor (double, single, bleed).
Front side and back side of card shown beow. Back side has space to add your own info or logo.
Print to have on hand when you're out in the community.
Handout at events or meetings.
Use pieces of graphic on social media.
The City of Edina developed a model contract for snow and ice management that embraces best practices to minimize environmental impacts from salt and other chemicals. Property owners can adapt the model contract to suit their needs and to ensure their contractors are protecting Minnesota waters from chloride pollution.
Share these with people in your community looking for information about developing a winter maintenance plan. Three templates are scaled to meet user needs:
Download the calculator below to help determine which template would be best.
Download the calculator (Excel file) that will help users select a winter site maintenance template.
Why reinvent the wheel? There are a lot of great websites out there with resources ready to use in your chloride reduction efforts. Check out these sites.
Snow Removal: Do it better, cheaper and pollution-free!
Plain language resource from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) with tips on minimizing salt use including a training video.Snow Removal: Do it better!
Smart Salting Training
Learn about how to become a certified Smart Salter and find out when the next training is happening.Smart Salting Training homepage
Smart Salting Manual
Useful guide about smart salting for property managers.Smart Salting Manual (pdf)
Water Pollutant: Chloride
Information about chloride pollution from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.Chloride webpage
Clean Water Minnesota
A project of the Metro Watershed Partners, this website offers information about protecting water quality, Adopt-a-Drain, and tips about reducing winter salt use.cleanwatermn.org
Winter Salt Watch
Take the Salt Watch Pledge from the Izaak Walton League, and they'll send you a FREE kit with everything you need to find out whether road salt pollution is a problem in your local stream.Winter Salt Watch
Smart About Salt
Information about Canada's Smart About Salt Winter Salt Management Program.smartaboutsalt.com
Campus Snow Removal Program
Learn about Montana State University's comprehensive snow removal plan focused on response, recovery and maintenance.Montana State snow removal
Wisconsin Salt Wise is a coalition of organizations to reduce salt pollution. Learn about why salt's a problem, how to take action, and more.wisaltwise.com
Do you have a great online resource to share? Please email Liz Forbes.
On large developed properties, winter maintenance is typically performed by contractors. When developing an approach for Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota, we wanted to understand if contractors would be a good audience for focusing outreach efforts. Read the full report.
What we found when we interviewed private salt applicators was that they were generally knowledgeable about chloride as a water contaminant. However, their salting practices were primarily driven by client demand and liability concerns. These clients are usually owners and managers of large properties.
By focusing outreach efforts on owners and managers of large properties, we hope to drive demand for contractors that practice smart salting. In developing materials for Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota, we focused on homeowner associations, property managers, and communities of faith. These groups are accessible and tend to make decisions about winter maintenance for large areas including hiring of contractors.
To better understand attitudes and other factors of these groups that affect their willingness to adopt best salting practices, a series of interviews was conducted with these groups. The research revealed group concerns related to chloride use and which messages about reducing chloride use best resonated with them. Review the full market research report.
Working collaboratively through the Hennepin County Chloride Initiative (HCCI), water resource professionals led the development of and provided expertise for the Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota program. The team worked closely with a Minnesota marketing firm to perform interviews, develop a brand, and design materials. The primary goal of the effort was to provide a toolbox that local units of government (LGUs) may use during conversations with local residents and businesses about best practices related to winter maintenance. While these materials are useful for a variety of audiences, the targeted audiences for this program include faith-based communities, property managers, and homeowners/townhome associations.
Development of this program was funded through a Clean Water Fund grant from the MN Board of Water and Soil Resources.
"When performing winter maintenance, you can maintain safety while realizing financial savings and improving sustainability."
We'd love to know who's visited this site, if you plan to use the materials, or if you have any feedback. Please consider filling out this form.