Safe roads and healthy waters are incompatible? S(NO)w Way!

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With the first snowfalls of the season under our belts, it’s time to start thinking about how we can maintain safe roads, sidewalks and driveways this winter while still maintaining the health of our local lakes and rivers.

While we need to utilize techniques such as salting and deicing roads and sidewalks, it’s also important to remember that when all of that ice and snow does melt, it carries all those chemicals and minerals down the storm drains and into our water! Fortunately, there are many ways to make sure that we are using road salt effectively and sustainably.

Respect Our Waters has a full list of techniques to use when we are preparing our paved surfaces for winter weather. They are as follows:

•   Moderation is key when spreading salt. Only use about one coffee mug full of salt for every 10 sidewalk squares or 20 feet of driveway.

•   If possible, shovel necessary areas throughout snowfall instead of only relying on salt. This will reduce the amount of salt needed and make it more effective.

•   If the ice is thicker than ½”, use a heavy ice chopper. Salt cannot melt through thick ice effectively.

•   If the temperature dips below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, road salt won’t work. Use sand for traction or an alternative ice melt product that is effective at colder temperatures.

•   Sweep up excess salt or sand after every storm. Not only will this keep it out of the storm sewers, you'll be able to use it again and save money in the process!

•   If you hire help for snow removal, please ask your contractor to use salt sparingly, to use sand or another alternative, or to perform more manual labor to reduce ice formation.

By taking these steps, we can protect both ourselves and the environment this winter!