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Salt and Snow

Winter Water Quality: What's Salt Got to Do With It?

Thaw--freeze--thaw--freeze--thaw. With all the wacky weather fluctuations recently, our roads (and ourselves!) are taking a beating. And as the rain comes in later this week, and all of those heaped up piles of parking lot snows melt, where will it all go? Into our bays and harbors, and eventually into our groundwater. While it’s important that our groundwater will get a re-charge, it’s not good that the run-off is loaded with chemicals and other contaminants, like salt. As doctors advise, too much salt in your diet is a bad thing. And it’s the same for our waters. You can help by using a “low salt diet” on your property or business while also staying slip-free.

Here are some winter water quality tips to consider when the next freeze comes or flakes fall.

First try shoveling or sweeping. To reduce spreading de-icer, clear the snow first by shoveling or sweeping. Perhaps you won’t need a de-icer after you clear off the snow. This is a great way to get a little outdoor exercise. Consider helping your neighbor, too!

Know what’s in your de-icer and use non-toxic de-icers whenever possible. Chemical de-icers are carried away into local waterways where they change the composition of the water and can harm resident insects, fish, and birds. Consider natural solutions such as biodegradable cat litter, sand, or fireplace ash. 

Consider your pets, too. De-icers often contain chemicals that burn and crack pets’ paws creating a really uncomfortable outdoor experience. Then, pets lick their paws and all of those chemicals go straight into their bodies. If you must use de-icers, please use a pet-friendly one.

Water quality isn't something just to think about in summer. It's a year-round concern.