Using Less Winter Salt

Salty SituationRock salts are commonly used to melt and prevent ice, but salt can have a negative effect on local waterways long after all the snow has melted. When salt gets washed off the roadways it becomes difficult to remove from the waterways. High salt concentrations are harmful to freshwater ecosystems leading to a decrease in water quality and biodiversity. Groundwater and drinking water are also affected by high salt levels. Salt concentration in drinking water has doubled over the past decades which poses a threat to public health.

What You Can Do to Help 

Look into alternative methods to cut down or eliminate your need to use rock salt. 

  • Organic salt free de-icers are better for the environment and are safe to use around pets. These products can be found online and in local stores. 
  • Sand, coffee grounds, and ash are also good alternatives, but each negatively affect runoff by increasing the amount of sediments and solids going into streams. So, sweep up excess sand and other traction agents to prevent them from going down stormwater drains.

If you are going to use rock salt, the BEST way to minimize potential damage is to "Use Less Salt."  

  • Spread it across a surface evenly, instead of in mounds. A little goes a long way. 
  • Shovel more often to curb your need for salt. 
  • Sweep up extra salt after a storm and trash it so that it doesn't make it's way into your drinking water again.

For additional information Connect to DEQ (Virginia Department of Environmental Quality). 

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