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As winter settles in, many are salting driveways, sidewalks, and parking lots to prevent icy surfaces that can cause injuries. While safety should be everyone's priority, it is also important to know how to properly apply salt for optimal effectiveness and sustainability.
Over-salting causes damage to concrete surfaces and structures, harms landscaping, and when snow melts, it carries excess salt into storm drains and into our waterways.
So this winter, Don't Be Salty. Be Salt Wise! Follow these simple steps to ensure your winter maintenance is both safe and sustainable:
Taking these simple steps will help protect our freshwater and save you money, while still maintaining safe roads and sidewalks for our community!
Protect our water resources: The practice of salting roadways and sidewalks to clear ice in Dane County began in the 1950's. Over the past several decades, sodium chloride concentrations in our lakes have been increasing. Because chlorides are soluble chemicals, they combine with water and are carried into the water table or into freshwater resources easily. Overuse of salt in the winter is one of the main sources of sodium chloride in our lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Just 1 teaspoon of salt is enough to permanently pollute 5 gallons of water to a level that is toxic to native aquatic organisms! Once salt is in the water, it does not break down and there are currently no viable treatments to remove salt from waterways. If you can use one fewer 25-pound bag of salt this winter, you can help protect 10,000 gallons of fresh water!
Protect our soil: Chlorides do not bind to soil particles, so they do not filter out of the soil like many other chemicals. Once in the soil, chlorides can cause soil to become impermeable and infertile, making it difficult for the soil and plants to absorb water. Salt in soil can impact vegetation by stunting growth, causing brown or falling leaves, and causing dying limbs.
Protect our infrastructure, homes, and vehicles: Salt causes premature degradation of many materials. It can weaken the concrete, brick, and stone used in our homes, and it can damage the concrete and metal used for roads and bridges. Salt can also cause damage to your vehicle, bicycle, or mobility device. This leads to greater costs and the need for continuous maintenance. One ton of salt can cause between $800 and $3,300 of damage to buildings, bridges and other infrastructure. Applying the proper amount of salt to keep our roads and sidewalks safe will help you and our community save money.
Monona is taking several steps to use salt wisely and keep you safe. To reduce its salt usage while keeping our streets safe, the City uses several strategies:
To learn more about how the steps the City takes to ensure winter maintenance is safe and sustainable, please visit http://www.mymonona.com/537/Snow-Ice-Removal.
To help reduce salt pollution in our watershed, a coalition of city and county agencies, educators, and environmental groups called the Wisconsin Saltwise Partnership is working to get the word out about responsible salt use. You can help by educating yourself on salt use, visit wisaltwise.com to learn more.
Additionally, you can consider these tips and resources:
Cut The Salt, Wisconsin from Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine
Thank you from your Monona Sustainability Committee and Department of Public Works!
For questions, feel free to reach out to Thor Jeppson, Assistant Planner, at firstname.lastname@example.org