A recent study on road salt runoff into lakes is not good news for Twin Cities area lakes. In
fact, the metro area has some of the saltiest fresh water in the
country and that has major implications for fish and plants.
"I would say it's serious," said Rich Brash of the Three Rivers Park District. "We're already starting to see some lakes that have a build up in salt. Salt doesn't go away once it gets into a lake."
Keeping icy and snowy roads safe is actually unsafe for waterways. Road salt runoff creates a toxic situation.
"The main emphasis is just to use salt more judiciously so that we don't see that rapid build up, Brash said."
Urban lakes are vulnerable to pollution due to an extensive network of storm drains and pipes that carry salt into waterways.
"A lake like Medicine Lake which has 11,000 acres of water shed draining to it," Brash said. "That's a lot of salt rolling downhill to Medicine Lake."
Once the salt is in a lake, it is almost impossible to clean up the water.
"It's a process that's called reverse osmosis," Brash said. "It's very, very costly to do that on any sort of large scale."
Local road crews are very aware of this problem and are looking for solutions.
"They're making tremendous strides on how efficiently they use salt to improve the road safety conditions," Brash said.
But it's not just the super salt trucks causing this dilemma - the little guy is too.
"I get a little bit concerned about the salt use by private parties," Brash said, "whether those are commercial business, industrial business, or residents."
Eric Nelson, reporting
April 11, 2017