Help Prevent Water Pollution This Winter!

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Winter brings with it many fun activities, such as sledding, ice hockey, ice skating and skiing.  However, winter also means mounds of snow to shovel and layers of ice to remove from our sidewalks and driveways.  We often make the job easier by applying deicers like salt.  Besides sodium chloride, many deicers also contain chemicals like cyanide.  When ice melts, the salts and chemicals dissolve and flow into street drains that lead directly to the river, endangering aquatic life.

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You can help protect our aquatic ecosystems by following these tips to reduce salt use and prevent pollution:

  •  Remove the elements: The most important step in deicing is to physically remove as much snow and ice as possible before applying any deicing material.  Use a shovel to remove snow and break up the ice before you add another layer of deicer to your sidewalk or driveway. Adding more deicing material without removing what has melted can result in over-application, meaning more salt and chemicals end up in the river.

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  • Limit access: You can also reduce salt use by limiting access to you home to one entrance.  For every doorway that is not used, there will be less salt running into the catch basin in your street.
  • Try an alternative: Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) was developed as a deicing alternative because it has fewer adverse environmental impacts than salt and doesn’t cause corrosion.
  • Reduce your salt use: By limiting the amount of salt we use on sidewalks and driveways, we reduce the amount of polluted storm water washing into our waterways.

Help keep our waters healthy year-round and always remember you can make a difference.