Your Green Life: “Smart Salting” initiative aims to prevent salt pollution in Twin Ports

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DULUTH, MN– A Little bit of salt goes a long way. That’s the message several agencies across the Twin Ports are trying to relay as we barrel into the winter season.

Experts warn too much salt on your driveway, sidewalks, and other surfaces can have harmful impacts on our environment.

Salt is a necessity in the Twin Ports as deep freezes and heavy snowfalls can cause quite the slippery mess.

Karina Heim, Coastal Training Program Coordinator for the Lake Superior Reserve says, “excessive use of salt on our roadways and travel ways can also be problematic.”

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Lake Superior Reserve, and Fortin Consulting Inc. have an initiative that aims to help property owners and managers protect water resources by using less salt to de-ice parking lots, walkways, and other surfaces.

Heim says during a free training session, property owners will learn, “how they can spend less money and think more about how they use salt.”

The agencies report the salt used in winter maintenance is having serious side effects on the environment.

“When salt gets into our waterways it can disrupt ecosystems from the soil and bacteria in the soils, whether those are in the river bed or lake bottoms. That can affect plant growth all the way up to some of the animals we think about in the water,” says Andrea Crouse, Water Resource Program Coordinator for the City of Superior.

Heim says a study by the University of Minnesota showed 78% of salt used on roads ends up in our waterways. Something the City of Superior is mindful of.

“We not only track how much salt we use every year and report that as a part of our stormwater permit but we do training for the folks that are applying salt,” says Crouse.

Participants in the upcoming training will learn strategies for achieving safe surfaces in the winter with less salt.

Crouse claims, “the amount of salt in an 8-oz cup is enough to treat a standard driveway or about 10 squares of a sidewalk.”

She also says a brine or salt water solution is a great way to limit the amount of salt used during the winter. “Salt works when its in solution. So it has to be wet when it starts melting ice.”

Crouse says the Superior street sweepers help clean up excess salt by doing routine sweeps through town.

Another effort the Regional Stormwater Protection Team stresses is a “scatter pattern.”

This is when you toss salt out on your sidewalk or driveway, look at how close together the grains are. If your salt grains are very close together (separated by less than 3 inches), you probably have more salt than you need, according to Heim.

She says if you throw down more salt than you need, you can always sweep the excess amount up for reuse.

And that less salt, is more. “A little bit of salt goes a long way,” says Heim.

While city crews deal with large scale salting and solutions, property owners and managers can be a part of the solution on a small, but cumulatively large scale.

During the free, half-day training you will learn how to:

• Reduce damage caused by salt indoors & outdoors,
• Incorporate sustainable practices,
• Deal with liability…and other winter headaches.

When: Thursday, November 14, 2019
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Where: MPCA, Paulucci Building, Duluth #400A

Cost: Offered at no charge from the Lake Superior Reserve

Coastal Training Program. Light morning refreshments and
lunch included.

To register click here.

Jessie Slater

Jessie Slater

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