Here are some ways you can keep your watershed healthy this winter.
Hold the salt
Chloride pollution is a growing problem, especially in urban watersheds. The salt applied to icy roads, parking lots, sidewalks and driveways runs into storm drains and then to our lakes and streams, where it can build up to toxic levels that harm fish and aquatic plants.
It only takes one teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute five gallons of water!
Here’s what you can do to reduce salt use at home:
- Shovel first. Clear walkways before snow turns to ice, and before you apply salt. The more snow you clear by hand, the less salt you’ll need.
- Check the temp. Salt doesn’t melt ice if the pavement is below 15 degrees, so use sand for traction when it’s too cold, or choose a different deicer product.
- Sprinkle sparingly. Use salt only where it’s critical, and remember that more salt does not make ice melt faster. When you apply salt to pavement, leave plenty of space (about three inches) between granules. A 12-ounce coffee cup of salt is enough to cover 10 sidewalk squares or a 20-foot driveway.
- Sweep up excess. Clean up any leftover salt and sand. You can save and reuse it later, or dispose of it in the trash.
Clean up pet waste
Pet waste quickly winds up in lakes and streams, carried untreated through storm sewer pipes. Yuck!
- Keep up with yard cleaning, especially when warm weather is in the forecast.
- Keep your community clean by picking up your pet’s waste when you are on walks.
- If you don’t have a dog, consider helping out an elderly neighbor with the waste in their yard.
For more tips and stories of residents in your community working for clean water, visit cleanwatermn.org.