Less salt, less harm to our water

Less Salt, Less Harm

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(ABC 6 News) – It’s winter salt awareness week. Which may seem kind of strange with temperatures above freezing.

“It’s a little deceptive while we haven’t had as much snow we’ve had more icy conditions,” said Mike Dougherty with MnDOT.

Salt contains chloride, which can be harmful to our freshwater ecosystem. Dougherty says crews are still out salting the roads, but not as much as a typical year.

“We’ve been able to use that brine to help pretreat those areas that might be prone to ice, [or] things like that,” said Dougherty.

The brined salt is about 20-30% salt, and the rest is water. Which means less salt on the roads.

Training has come a long way, too, something every plow driver with the city of Rochester must go through.

“So, everybody in a snowplow of the city has been trained on kind of the effects of road salt and also how to correctly apply it. So, that’s kind of where we start in the classroom,” said Street Maintenance Manager for the city of Rochester Dan Plizga.

So far this year, MnDOT District 6 has used 7,000tons of salt and 565 gallons of brine. That’s about 65% less brine and about 80 percent less salt than last year.

“When we do apply it all, the truck are calibrated so we know exactly how much is coming,” said Plizga.

And when you’re out there salting your own driveway, there are ways you can help out too.

“Make sure you scatter it evenly and there aren’t piles. You know more salt doesn’t necessarily mean more melting,” said Enviromental Educations Specialist for the city of Rochester Rachel Strauss.

Officials says one teaspoon of salt can contaminate 5 gallons of water. That’s what they say it takes everyone to help limit the amount of salt in our water.