Updated: January 06, 2021 06:33 PM
Created: January 06, 2021 04:22 PM
With icy conditions this winter, many are using deicer and road salt on sidewalks and parking lots but it's also important to think about the environmental impact that salt has on our watershed, and eventually Lake Superior.
The grounds crew at UWS has recently gotten some training with the MPCA through their Smart Salting program and said they learned best practices to reduce salt use. They are now Smart Salting certified and are putting it into practice on campus.
"I think what surprised me the most is how little amount of salt it really takes to contaminate water," said UWS unit director Brayden Ward.
It takes only one teaspoon of road salt to permanently pollute five gallons of water.
"Salt gets carried to the storm drains and those storm drains are direct connections to our local waterways. That chloride is a permanent pollutant and once it's in our waterways we cannot remove it," said Megan Högfeldt, the water resources specialist for the City of Superior Environmental Services Division.
Ward said they have been using more salt and sand mix as well as mechanical methods to clear the snow and offered some advice.
"Start with a small application of ice melt products. It's easy to add more later on if you need more and if you do have any leftover when you're done you can always sweep it up and reuse it for the next event," said Ward.
Another environmentally friendly option is using bird seed instead of salt to create traction.
The City of Superior is offering some education on that method and more for Wisconsin Salt Awareness Week starting Jan. 11 which will feature educational webinars on the importance of salt use reduction, what chloride toxicity means for our local ecosystems and how we can all make a difference.
"The Wisconsin Salt Awareness Week is a great opportunity for people to learn how to reduce the total amount of salt they use," said Högfeldt.
Högfeldt also said we can all be proactive in snow removal by scattering deicer with three inches between salt granules to prevent from over-salting, and switching to sand for traction when temperatures get below 15°F to keep our sidewalks and streets safe. Also, when it warms up in the spring time, sweep up the extra salt and sand on your sidewalks or the driveway, you can reuse it for next year.
The Wisconsin Salt Wise Partnership, the coalition is hosting the event.
To learn more contact Megan Högfeldt at email@example.com or by calling 715-394-0392.
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