Water & Salt

Each winter, Minnesota spreads more than 700 million pounds of salt on roads and walkways.
Melted ice and snow carry all that chloride into rivers, lakes and streams.
Here’s why that’s a problem and how you can help.

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Water Jugs
MPR News

Salt may be cheap fix for slick roads, but costs to water quality are mounting

Fifty Minnesota lakes and streams are now on the state’s impaired waters list because of too much chloride, mainly from road salt. Excess chloride has widespread implications — everything from affecting aquatic life reproduction to corroding our infrastructure to health problems for humans. MPR News takes a deep dive into this threat and what’s being done to address it.

Hand salt
The Federalist

A conservative case for using less road salt

Here’s an interesting take on road salt from Ross Marchand, writing for the conservative online publication The Federalist. He insists that as policymakers consider infrastructure reform, they need to think about road salt’s direct and indirect effects on health, infrastructure and the environment.

Water Jugs
Watertown Daily Times

Road salt clears roads, but can mean costly fixes to drinking water infrastructure

Here’s a story we read with interest from Orleans, Vermont, where contamination of wells from road salt is resulting in the need for a new water line. The state is kicking in money to help pay for it, but residents want the state to fully finance it, as they blame road salt from a state DOT salt barn for causing the problem.

Snow Plow
Oregon Live

Bucking national trends, Oregon adds road salt to its arsenal in Lane County

While departments of transportation in the Midwest and Northeast have been scaling back their use of road salt to limit chloride pollution in lakes, streams and rivers, the Oregon Department of Transportation has felt forced to go in a different direction. ODOT previously prohibited use of road salt for many reasons, including potential environmental harm. But a crippling ice storm in 2016 compelled it to change its tune.

Road Salt
WPXI

Public works officials turn to beet juice and beer to address road salt danger

As the potential impacts of excess road salt use on bodies of water and aquatic life become clearer, many state and local agencies are trying to use less. Alternatives like beet juice, and beer can also have undesirable environmental effects, but maybe the trade-off is worthwhile?


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Snow Plow

Share your water & (life) story

The Water Main is collecting personal stories about water so that we may better understand its significance in our lives. Please share yours.



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Minnesotans are a hardy bunch. Here, hockey is an outdoor sport and it takes more than six inches to trigger a snow day. But can Minnesotans channel that same “bold north” mentality to defend the state’s waters from chloride pollution?

Use our checklist to see if you are up to the challenge.

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Learn more about salt and water quality.
Visit Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

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