(WFRV) – Winter storms and road salt. They go hand in hand in the wintertime in our area. That road salt does eventually runoff into our water sources which impacts our freshwater ecosystems. For Wisconsin Salt Awareness Week it is important to know how you can reduce the amount of salt you use. 

Road salt that we put down ahead of winter storms can end up in our local waterways, such as the Bay of Green Bay and the Fox River, due to runoff. This can lead to negative effects. 

Sarah Bartlett, a Water Resources Specialist with NEW Water, says, “Aquatic organisms aren’t going to necessarily be used to dealing with that high concentration of salt. They’re not going to be as salt tolerant. It’s going to have an immediate impact on the aquatic organisms.” 

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Salt can be toxic to fish, plants, aquatic organisms depending on that salt threshold. The immediate shock of the salt in freshwater areas can even kill some of these organisms, but it’s not just the short term, but long term. Summer months also have to put up with the lingering effects of the road salt used in the winter.

Bartlett added, “Road salt has been shown known to linger once it does find its way into surface water or groundwater. It will linger which means that this has an impact over years.” 

According to NEW Water, Wisconsin puts down on average over 500,000 tons of salt annually. That number does not include local businesses and homes.

Reduction in salt can be done in 3 ways. Salt does not work with temperatures under 15 degrees, so switch to sand for traction or other ice melters. 

Shovel some of the snow yourself, that way you won’t need as much salt. Lastly, just scatter the salt between grains. Make sure you use the right amount, only one coffee cup should be good for 10 sidewalk squares.