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Use Less Salt

It impacts our rivers, lakes and streams. At home, frequent shoveling is best!

The most commonly used salt is sodium chloride, which is cheap and effective, but not always the best choice because chloride can be toxic to the environment.

The real concern is that anything applied to roads, parking lots, and sidewalks has a quick and easy path to our waterways when melting snow runs into the storm drains.

Limit your use of salt at home with these tips:

  • Shovel early and often to avoid using salt or deicers altogether.
  • Consider a deicer such as magnesium chloride and check labels for proper application tips.
  • Buy your deicer early, before the snow falls for more river-friendly choices in the store.
  • Use as little deicer as is needed to get the job done.
  • Limit your use of sand.  Instead of melting ice, sand provides traction.  But it also increases the amount of sediment in our lakes, rivers and streams when it washes into storm drains with melting snow.
  • Promptly remove slush and any residual salt, sand or deicer from concrete surfaces to minimize polluted runoff.

When choosing the best snow removal techniques for your home, it is up to you to balance needs for safety, potential environmental impacts, costs and convenience.

Homeowners: Read “Safe Sidewalks, Safe River” from our Winter 2008 Huron River Report” for more detailed information.

Or take a look at “Improved Winter Maintenance: Good Choices for Clean Water,” a 15-minute video produced by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization in 2011. You’ll learn the best tools for keeping driveways and sidewalks safe this winter, what deicers work under different winter conditions and whether you should use them at all, and the impacts of sand and deicers to our lakes, streams and groundwater.

Interested in what road salt alternatives local governments are exploring? Read “Communities Seek a Substitute for Road Salt,” USA Today, February 23, 2013.




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