By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency wants the state to go on a salt diet. It wants the state to cut back on the amount of salt flowing into the metro areas lakes and rivers.

WCCO’s Reg Chapman spoke with a spokesperson with the Freshwater Society, which fights against excessive salt use.

They believe salt from winter pavement maintenance is what is behind the biggest source of salt pollution.

“A teaspoon permanently pollutes five gallons of water. The salt does not go away, it accumulates in the lakes and in the ground water,” Carrie Jennings, of the Freshwater Society, said. “We need to stop over-salting, we’re currently on track to permanently pollute some of our lakes by 2030, 2040.”

It’s concentrated in the metro area’s waterways.

The saltiest creeks in the metro area are Elm, Shingle, Battle, Bass and Minnehaha. MPCA says out of the 53 saltiest lakes and wetlands in the state, all except 10 are in the metro area. The saltiest was in Spring Lake in Spring Lake Park.

“The roadways are the problems in the Twin Cities, and also parking lots and sidewalks in greater Minnesota. There is also salt used in roads for dust control. It’s in fertilizer and water softening.”

To cut back on Minnesota’s salt habit, the MPCA last week proposed tough new rules.

Some cities would be required to teach businesses and institutions about salt use.

Road salt can also be minimized by plowing more often to prevent ice from forming, applying salt at the right time and temperature and using salt brine — spraying as a liquid onto the road.

There are ways everyone can help cut down on how much salt gets into our waterways.

“I spent some time last night sweeping up the extra salt from the sidewalk,” Jennings said. “You should only have a salt grain every three inches and our sidewalk was clearly too salty last night so sweeping it up before the next melt event is what is needed to be done.”

People can also help by using sand for traction when it’s too cold.

Remember salt does not melt ice when the temperature is below 15 degrees and use salt only where it’s critical.

The experts tell us a teaspoon of salt can pollute up to five gallons of water.

Reg Chapman

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