AUSTIN, Minn. – There’s a free way for people to check how salt used on roadways and sidewalks is affecting local streams or lakes this winter.
Salt Watch says it will send a free chloride-testing kit to anyone who asks and agrees to use the kit four times this winter. It’s part of a nationwide crowdsourced campaign run by the Izaak Walton League of America.
“Minnesota has a lot of road surfaces that get treated for snow and ice so we want to keep an eye on salt pollution in our waterways and help MPCA locate chloride hotspots around the state,” said Emily Bialowas, who runs Salt Watch. “This is an easy, quick and free way to test your stream or lake for road salt pollution.”
Mower County Soil and Water Conservation District and Cedar River Watershed District are encouraging the public to request a kit and gather data. “This is a great way for more people to get engaged in helping to protect and improve our waterways,” says watershed technician James Fett.
The kits should be used in one location – ideally in a river or stream downstream from a road or bridge – to test four times chloride throughout the winter. As for testing a lake, the kit includes guidelines for monitoring, such as using a dock if there is one because it’s best to get a sample from slightly off the shoreline.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says the state has a growing problem with salty water that threatens freshwater fish and other aquatic life. Chloride from de-icing salt, water softening, dust suppressant, fertilizer and manure gets into lakes and streams, shallow groundwater and groundwater that supplies drinking water. Experts say just one teaspoon of salt can permanently pollute five gallons of water.
For more information on Salt Watch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go online at: www.saltwatch.org.