How to maintain public safety while reducing salt use
What is Sensible Salting?
Each winter, the Chicago region uses more than 270,000 tons of road salt to control ice on roads, parking lots, and sidewalks. While maintaining public safety is absolutely necessary, the amount of salt used is excessive and is polluting our drinking water. Salt concentrations in groundwater have been rapidly rising across the Chicago region since the 1960's.
The NWPA is urging municipalities, private contractors, and homeowners to reduce use of road salt to reduce the contamination entering our river and groundwater resources. Many municipal and county road departments are already taking actions to reduce road salt. Such changes include storing salt properly, calibrating equipment, reviewing operational goals, and using anti-icing techniques to prevent ice for forming in the first place.
Regional Sensible Salting Manual for Parking Lots and Sidewalks
Parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks are the next spot to start reducing salt use. The NWPA is developing guidance for sensible salting of parking lots and sidewalks in partnership with the Salt Smart Collaborative. Due out in 2020, this manual will help private contractors and owners of larger parking lots to use best practices and reduce the impacts to water resources.
The NWPA, in partnership with the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), developed a handout for outreach purposes regarding sensible salting.
Sensible Salting Sub-Committee
The Sensible Salting Sub-Committee was formed to study best practices and make recommendations to the NWPA regarding the use of road salt for winter snow and ice management activities.
County and Partner Resources
NWPA member counties and partner organizations have developed manuals, handbooks, and Best Management Practices for salting practices.