50% more snow than normal, use salt sparingly
Snow removal companies in our neck of the woods are in good spirits thanks to all of the snow we have received. On the North Shore and Gunflint Trail our snowiest months are February and March but we’re already at 50% more snowfall than normal(average winter snowfall is around 91.5″).
Snow totals to date as compared to last year at this time (Oct. – Jan. 10):
2017/18 2018/19 % increase
Lutsen Mountains: 39” 59.5” +52%
Central Gunflint Trail: 25.25” 68.53” +85%
Upper Gunflint Trail: 33.5” 42” +25%
Hopefully that doesn’t equate to that much more salt people are putting on the ground and into our water. Salt contains Chloride which is harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife. Here’s some information from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency about how to use salt sparingly to protect our waters.
- Scatter patterns
Though no environmentally safe, effective, and inexpensive alternatives to salt are yet available, smart salting strategies can help reduce chloride pollution in state waters. You might think more salt means more melting and safer conditions, but it’s not true! Salt will effectively remove snow and ice if it’s scattered so that the salt grains are about three inches apart (see this illustration for a visual reference. If you publish the graphic, credit the Regional Stormwater Protection Team). A coffee mug full of salt (about 12 ounces) is all you need for a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares (roughly 1,000 square feet). Consider using a hand-held spreader to apply salt consistently, and use salt only in critical areas.
And sweep up any extra that is visible on dry pavement. It is no longer doing any work and will be washed away into local waters.
Additional tips for limiting salt use:
Shovel. The more snow and ice you remove manually, the less salt you’ll have to use and the more effective it can be.
15oF and below is too cold for salt. Most salts stop working at this temperature. Use sand instead for traction, but remember that sand does not melt ice.
Slow down. Drive for the conditions and make sure to give plow drivers plenty of space to do their work. Consider purchasing winter (snow) tires.
Hire a certified Smart Salting contractor. Visit the MPCA’s Smart Salting webpage for a list of winter maintenance professionals specifically trained in limiting salt use.
Watch a video. Produced by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, it offers tools for environmentally friendly snow and ice removal.
Promote smart salting. Work together with local government, businesses, schools, churches, and nonprofits to advocate for reducing salt use in your community.
Learn more on the MPCA’s Chloride webpage.