MPCA warns of impact de-icing salts can have on state's lakes and rivers

The MPCA says salt should be scattered so that the grains are about three inches apart. Photo: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
The MPCA says salt should be scattered so that the grains are about three inches apart.

November 27, 2018 11:03 AM

With the first lasting snow and ice of the season on the horizon, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is warning residents of the impact de-icing salts used on driveways and sidewalks can have on the state's lakes, rivers and streams.

A release said about 365,000 tons of salt are scattered in the Twin Cities metro area every year. But when the snow melts, that salt, which contains chloride, runs into storm drains and nearby bodies of water where it can harm freshwater fish and other aquatic wildlife, the MPCA says.

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According to the release, it takes just one teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute five gallons of water.

The MPCA offers tips for more environmentally-safe salt-spreading. They include:

  • Scattering salt so the gains are about three inches apart. The MPCA says a coffee mug full of salt (around 12 ounces) should be all that is needed for a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares (roughly 1,000 square feet). 
  • Using a hand-held spreader to apply the salt consistently, and only using salt in critical areas.
  • Keeping in mind the importance of shoveling. The more snow and ice that can be removed manually, the less salt that will be needed.
  • Remembering most salts stop working at 15 degrees and below.

The MPCA said more tips, and information on the impact salts can have, are available online.

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