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Each winter, hordes of maintenance workers across Minnesota venture into the cold to combat the threat of ice on roads, sidewalks and parking lots with rock salt — too much, in fact, some experts say.
The rock salt, an unrefined version of table salt, dissolves into its separate ions — sodium and chloride — when it meets water in one form or another. The chloride then remains there, traveling with the water through the environment.
Therein lies the problem. Once the chloride is in the water, there’s no feasible method to remove it. And too much salt in a freshwater system can wreak havoc, said Scott County Natural Resources Senior Water Resources Planner Melissa Bokman.
“It affects aquatic fish, aquatic bugs, amphibians; it affects plants,” Bokman said. “It can stay in the soil. It affects your pets. There’s a lot of problems with salt.”
Three bodies of water in Scott County are on a federal impaired waters list for containing too much chloride: Credit River, Sand Creek and Raven Stream.
The county, municipalities and watershed districts are attempting to keep the other bodies of water in Scott County off the list by hosting free winter maintenance workshops for contractors, property managers, school district staff and volunteers who are responsible for maintaining roads and walkways in the winter.
The first workshop is on Jan. 16 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Spring Lake Township Hall on Fairlawn Avenue. The free workshops will be held every couple months through this year. (The next Parking lot & Sidewalk workshops are August 23 & Oct 22).
“A lot of people don’t know how much salt they should be using,” Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District Water Resources Outreach Specialist Kathryn Keller-Miller said. “They’re worried about liability, so they’ll put down extra just in case because they don’t want there to be ice, but in reality they’re using way more than they need to. These workshops came out of that.”
The presentations will be conducted by Fortin Consulting staff as well as a member of the winter maintenance industry so attendees can hear both the science and the practicalities of how and why to reduce salt use, Fortin Consulting Founder Connie Fortin said.
“My company felt like salt was an overlooked pollutant,” Fortin said. “We felt if they understood the serious consequences of putting salt in the water and if we gave them practical things to do to lower salt use that we could get them on our team and move the industry forward.”
For a water body to be considered impaired in regards to chloride pollution, there can be up to 230 milligrams of chloride per liter, which is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt in a five-gallon bucket of water.
“We say, what if you could use one less teaspoon. That would be easy, and you would save five gallons of water from being permanently polluted,” Fortin said.
A University of Minnesota study found that 78 percent of salt applied in the Twin Cities metropolitan area in the winter made its way to groundwater, lakes or wetlands, according to the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area Chloride Management Plan from February 2016.
“Once chloride is in water, the only known technology for its removal is (reverse osmosis) through massive filtration plants, which is not economically feasible,” the report states. “This means that chloride will continue to accumulate in the environment over time.”
Fortin said the methods suggested at the workshop are geared toward workers limiting salt use as much as possible, such as driving slower when applying salt so the dry rock salt isn’t wasted by bouncing off the road.
Because rock salt is not effective if pavement is 14 degrees or colder, the workshop suggests using a different solution or chemical if it’s colder than that.
Liquid mixtures, while not as effective as rock salt, act faster on ice and snow and are about 77 percent water, leading to less environmental damage, Fortin said.
“We look at those different strategies of what chemicals, what spread patterns, what strategies can we use so we use the smallest amount necessary,” Fortin said.
While the workshop is not geared toward residents, residents can also reduce their salt use. Water softeners, for instance, use sodium to remove minerals from water.
“All that soft water eventually gets into our streams and our lakes,” Bokman said.
Residents can also be less zealous on removing 100 percent of ice from sidewalks with ice. If traction is needed, granite pieces or chicken grit can be thrown down and re-used later.
“It’ll give you grip on the ice and give you traction, but you wouldn’t need to use the salt,” Keller-Miller said. “Some people use sand, but sand isn’t always the best because that also washes down the drain and can cause turbidity issues with the water.”
There’s also the good old-fashioned shovel and supporting a municipality or contractor deciding to use less salt, Fortin said.
“Be more encouraging and tolerant as the industries are trying to change,” Fortin said.
Pre-registration is required for the workshops. Those wanting to participate can register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 952-496-8887.View Full Article Water quality, chloride pollution, chlorides, impaired, road salt, salt, salt use, snow, snow removal, streams, water resources, winter, winter maintenance, workshop
Thursday, October 4, 2018 6:30-8:30 PM. Prior Lake City Hall
The Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District (PLSLWD) will be conducting the first of three community meetings to gather input from residents to identify their water resource priorities, issues and concerns on October 4th at Prior Lake City Hall. This information will be used to develop the PLSLWD’s blueprint of projects and programs for the next ten years, the District’s “2020-2029 Water Resources Management Plan.” The current plan, which expires at the end of 2019, identified over 60 projects and programs that were designed to address the five fundamental goals of the District.
Refreshments will be served at Thursday’s meeting, which will begin with a brief introduction to the planning process at 6:45 pm. Residents will then be invited to provide input on five key topics:
- Water quality
- Flood reduction
- Recreation & wildlife habitat
- Land uses of concern
To learn more about the 2020-2029 Water Resource Management Plan and the PLSLWD’s planning process, please go to the 2020 Project pages on the District’s website.View Full Article 2020 Plan, Management Plan, WRMP, Water Resources Management Plan, meeting, public meeting, water resources
The District is pleased to announce an internship opportunity for Summer 2018 for two Water Resources Interns. This paid internship is a great opportunity for students who are exploring careers and are interested in the Natural Resources or Environmental fields. Furthermore, there is flexibility built into the internship to allow the intern to focus on topics which interest her/him.
The internship provides valuable career opportunities and experience including: monitoring conservation easements; identifying native and invasive plant species; updating the District’s website and social media accounts; creating outreach materials; providing water quality monitoring assistance; assisting with erosion and sediment control inspections for open permits; developing baseline documentation for easements; conducting education and outreach for landowners; and working on a special project based on the applicant’s interests.
Click the link to view the full position description: Water Resources Intern
To Apply: Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume by March 5th, 2018 for priority review. However, rolling applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. Application materials should be sent via email to email@example.com and include the position title in the subject line of the email. Applications can also be sent by mail to 4646 Dakota St SW, Prior Lake, MN 55372.
Contact Kathryn Keller-Miller with any questions: via email or at 952-447-4166.View Full Article Water quality, education, internship, permitting, summer, summer intern, water resources