Road Salt $hortage

Google “salt shortage” and an array of media stories pop up. MPR’s recent report on the looming road salt shortage and increased prices gives a nice take on the issue. Minnesota is leading the nation with technology, education and tools that allow our winter maintenance departments to do more with less. It’s good timing- we need to use less.

The MN Pollution Control Agency just concluded a four year study on the chloride impaired waters in the seven county metro area. Use of road salt in the area’s winter maintenance over the last several decades has taken a toll with 44 water bodies now with chloride readings above the water quality standard. And it’s not just surface water– research from another MPCA study shows that 30% of the metro area’s wells had chloride levels greater than the chronic water-quality standard.

Next month MPCA will release recommendations to reduce chloride pollution to road salt applicators. MNDOT, cities, counties and private contractors will be asked to look at their winter maintenance practices and apply all of the tools and technology available to reduce salt use—while maintaining safe roads. But, citizens also need to take responsibility by having rational expectations and using common sense when it comes to winter driving and sidewalk safety. Here’s what you can do!

Professionals will convene February 5 for Freshwater Society’s 14th Annual Road Salt Symposium sponsored by U of MN LTAP, MPCA, Envirotech Services, Inc., and Liquidow. Registration is now open.