A Citizen's Guide to Cold Weather Practices
Help prevent stormwater pollution this winter!
Winter brings with it lots of fun activities, like sledding, ice skating and skiing. But winter also means mounds of snow to shovel and layers of ice to remove from our sidewalks and driveways. We often make the job easier by applying deicers like salt. Besides sodium chloride, many deicers also contain chemicals like cyanide. When ice melts, the salts and chemicals dissolve and flow into street drains that lead directly to the river, endangering aquatic life. Here are a few tips to reduce salt use and prevent pollution year-round.
Below are some approaches to reducing stormwater pollution from household salt:
1. Try An Alternative
Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) was developed as a deicing alternative because it has fewer adverse environmental impacts than salt and doesn’t cause erosion.
2. Reduce Your Salt Use
By limiting the amount of salt we use on sidewalks and driveways, we can reduce the amount of polluted stormwater washing into our waterways.
3. Use De-icing Products Based On Winter Conditions
Before applying a deicer to your sidewalk, think about the air temperature, potential for sun exposure, and how much product you'll need. Remember to follow label directions carefully and use products sparingly. It's easy to over apply deicers, but applying more than you need won't melt your ice any faster.
- For Dry, Powdery Snow: Shovel or sweep snow immediately to avoid using deicer.
- For Wet, Heavy Snow: Apply deicer product as soon as snow beings falling in order to prevent it from bonding.
- For Sleet & Freezing Rain: Apply deicer product early on during these conditions to prevent ice from building up.
- For Significant Snowfall: When more than two inches of snow falls, plow or shovel first and then use a deicing product to melt any underlying layers of ice that have built up due to packed down snow.