HOLD THE SALT!
Salt is good on food, but not it’s not so tasty in our drinking water. The amount of salt in groundwater has increased significantly with development and the consequent winter salting of roadways, driveways and walks. Increased chloride levels threaten our only source of drinking water as well as the health of our natural environment.
While we need to use some salt for safety, what happens to salt after the snow disappears? The chlorides in pavement salts don’t break down in water. Instead, chlorides are carried to the aquifers where they stay indefinitely in the groundwater – the same water we drink. Approximately 45% of the chlorides in snowmelt end up in the groundwater.
More salt is not better. While it may seem the more salt you use the faster the ice will melt, the fact is using too much salt can slow melting. Usually only ¼ to 1 cup of salt is needed for a square yard of icy pavement.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Be conservative in how much salt you use on your driveway and walks – or if possible don’t use de-icing products at all. It’s safer for you, your family and the environment. Use minimum amounts to loosen ice and snow, so you can remove it by hand – that’s how salt is intended to work.
If you live in a subdivision that contracts winter maintenance, make sure your contractor is certified in environment-friendly snow removal and put it in the contract. And talk to your neighbors about safe salting practices and impacts to our groundwater.
Remember, the groundwater in the BACOG area is replenished locally from above, which means what you put on the ground today could be in the water you drink tomorrow. Be safe and enjoy winter!