While salt is a very imporant topic to discuss in winter, there are other things you can to to protect the watershed over winter months (even though two are related to salt...).
Dispose of shoveled snow in vegetated areas; avoid dumping it in streets or streams. Gardens can better absorb snow melt than pavement, so in the next warm up, less polluted storm water runoff will get into our streams.
For nuisance wildlife, use non-toxic alternatives instead of chemical pesticides to reduce indoor and outdoor chemical use. Use boric acid, a low-toxicity mineral or bait boxes to keep winter wildlife out of your home versus chemicals that can have negative health impacts on humans and pets indoors, and water quality if chemicals are used out of doors. (For more information: http://www.nrdc.org/health/pesticides/gpests.asp)
Salt piles should always be stored under a roof. Report uncovered salt piles to that community’s Service Department.
Encourage your community to pass a Sensible Salt Ordinance. The City of Richmond Heights uses ~4,400,000 pounds of salt per year to keep roadways safe, and this is one of lowest salt users in Cuyahoga County. The city follows sensible salt guidelines by only salting on main streets, hills, stop signs and corners, so imagine how much salt communities are using without these guidelines? Encourage your community to follow suit! Contact Cuyahoga SWCD for model ordinance language.
Have a safe and happy winter knowing that you are keeping the health of the watershed in mind!
Blog Author: Claire Posius, Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator