How Does Salting Our Roads in the Winter Impact our Waters?

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Earlier this week the Northern Virginia area had quite a few inches of snowfall. This was likely one of our last storms now that it’s officially spring. After the snow melts, and the days get warmer, we can still see the impacts of snowstorms on our watershed. This afternoon I’ve been reading the EPA’s blog for Healthy Waters of the Mid-Atlantic Region on the impacts of road salt on our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. (“Recovering from a healthy does of winter“).

The impact of salt runoff is greater in freshwater systems than saline. The Bay has a mix of freshwater and saltwater estuaries. The more saline waters and species are less likely to be affected by salt runoff. However, in freshwater, salt can lower oxygen levels and increase conductivity, directly impacting aquatic life and macroinvertebrates. Salt runoff can also affect human drinking supplies and human health, should concentrations get too high.

The post includes tips on how to remove excess salt from driveways and roads, and links to previous advice on smart ways to apply salt, with minimum impact (for future reference).

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