Despite this year’s mild winter, NWPA members and partners made significant strides to salt sensibly and educate communities and the public about the effects of excessive road salt use on water resources. Kane County recently reported that the mild winter and smarter salting practices resulted in savings on salt, overtime pay, and fuel costs for the County’s Department of Transportation.
Each winter, the Chicago region uses more than 270,000 tons of road salt to control ice on roads, parking lots, and sidewalks. Although ensuring transportation safety during the winter months is necessary, the excessive use of road salt is impairing our region’s water quality. Practicing sensible salting during the winter months, even during a mild winter season, is an important strategy for improving the quality of surface water and groundwater resources in the NWPA area. Once you put salt down, it does not go away or break down. Instead, it enters and accumulates in waterbodies over time, putting aquatic life at risk, impacting vegetation, and threatening water supplies. To protect our shared water resources, it’s important to practice sensible salting. There are several resources and initiatives that can help NWPA member communities salt sensibly.
Last year, the NWPA, in partnership with the Salt Smart Collaborative, developed a Winter Maintenance Manual. The manual helps private contractors and owners of larger parking lots use best practices and reduce the impacts of salt use on water resources. Multiple NWPA county members have also developed their own sensible salting manuals, including the McHenry County Snow and Ice Control Handbook and the Lake County Winter Parking Lot and Sidewalk Maintenance Manual.
In addition to these resources, the “Salt Smart and You” exhibit has been traveling around the Schaumburg Township Library, Gail Borden Public Library, Aurora Public Library, and the Joliet Public Library over the last several months. The exhibit, created by the NWPA Sensible Salting Subcommittee and the Conservation Foundation, focused on educating the public on sensible salting and the impacts of excessive road salt use on our water resources.
Learn more about NWPA’s sensible salting efforts here and help protect the quality of our shared water resources.
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