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Environmental Concerns Surface Over Salt Use

Posted at: 02/08/2013 6:45 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- With the icy weather we've had lately MnDOT and road crews have had to blast our roads with salt and ice melt. But all that salt can have serious environmental side effects.

A new study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency shows that, that salt is filling our lakes and streams. They are now urging everyone to cut down on salt use.

"One teaspoon of road salt can be toxic to five gallons of freshwater," said Megan Moeller.

Rochester storm water educator, Moeller says each year our road salt has big impacts on our waterways.

"It has all sorts of different effects changing the metabolism of critters, it also changes the ability of lakes to turn over," said Moeller.

In a study of 74 metro lakes, the Minnesota Pollution and Control Agency found that 28 of them had excessive levels of chloride. Most of it from road salt.

MnDOT spokesperson Kristin Kammueller says they have been trying for years to cut down on salt use.

"Being cautious of how much product we're laying down is something MnDOT has always been very cognisant of," saidKammueller.

This year MnDOT has a new tool that's helping them use less.

"We have this new system that helps watch the weather and track what should be laid down and that has been making a huge difference of how much product we've actually been using," said Kammueller.

While MnDOT has been able to cut back use, there is still no way they can cut it out completely and still keep the roads safe.

"It is an effective thing we can use and until something better comes along it's just what were going to be using," said Kammueller.

Moeller urges everyone when it comes to salting our driveways and sidewalks to keep it to a minimum.

"It's something we should be concerning about because we can't easily treat this water to remove chloride, it's a lot of work."

Last year MnDOT used more than 250 thousand tons of salt.