Environmentalists Provide Tips to Reduce Salt Usage
The number is hard to grasp. 350,000 tons. That’s how much salt the Twin Cities metro area uses every year to clear the snow and ice. Public works departments and environmentalists met Thursday in Plymouth to figure out a way to reduce that large number.
Removing Salt from Lakes No Easy Task
Lake life is the best life. That’s a common saying in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. However, when winter hits those lakes we love often take a hit themselves.
“Sodium chloride is rock salt and the chloride part goes into the water and it stays there forever,” says Connie Fortin of Fortin Consulting, a firm that works to improve the environment. “It’s a permanent pollutant and it’s a toxin to things that live in our water.”
Fortin says getting rid of those pollutants is not an easy task.
“We could evaporate our lakes. Something else we could do is take the front-end loader into Lake Minnetonka and remove the salt but we have the wrong climate. We could do reverse osmosis of Lake Minnetonka to remove the salt but we would kill all microorganisms. Although there are ways to take salt out of the water, they aren’t practical for us,” said Fortin.
Other Alternatives Could Help
Other alternatives to road salts could help . Fortin points to MnDOT in Duluth, which is using potassium acetate, a chemical deicer that other transportation departments have tried across the country.
“They are trying it on several of their routes. Specifically their tricky routes like the big bridges,” said Fortin.
The effectiveness of potassium acetate is still being evaluated. But those who advocate for the reduction in salt use say citizens can do their part as well.
“When we have these really snowy days if we can work from home we should,” said Leslie Yetka, director of programs for the Freshwater Society. “We should do our best to not put the pressure on our cities to use salt on the roads.”
Homeowners can do their part too, says Fortin.
“What homeowners really should do is two things,” said Fortin. “One, they should shovel. They should use their snowblower. Citizens should use all mechanical methods to remove the snow and only use salt if it’s really important and critical.”
Advocates say a good way homeowners can help is to challenge themselves to use half the amount of salt that they did the year before. For more information about the Freshwater Society click here.