Remember the New Kids on the Block song "The Right Stuff?" Well, we are asking you to use The Right S.A.L.T. (and we hope you are singing that song now).
It's estimated that more than 22 million tons of salt are scattered on the roads othe the U.S. annually, equaling about 137 pounds per person. That's a lot of salt.
Here in Northeast Ohio, we need salt to keep our roads and sidewalks safe, but do we need that much of it? No, we sure don't. What we do need is enough to keep us safe and for it to be applied sensibly - by residents and municipal workers!
S – Stuff. Road salt (sodium chloride) only works above 15°F. For colder temperatures use a small amount of sand for added traction, or switch to an ice melting product designed to work at colder temperatures. No matter what you use, be sure to wash off your pet’s paws after a walk.
A – Amount. Spreading more salt does not improve deicing. One 12 ounce coffee cup full of salt is enough to cover about 10 sidewalk squares. There should be about 3 inches between salt granules. Be sure to sweep up any excess salt.
L – Location. Salt only belongs on your sidewalk and driveway and never on your lawn, flower beds, the base of a tree and definitely not in a stream! One teaspoon of salt permanently pollutes 5 gallons of water.
T - Time. Salt works best when it is applied before the snow falls or right after snow is removed from your driveway or sidewalk. Never apply salt when rain is in the forecast, as it will wash away into the storm drain and out to our waterways.
In November 2008, City Council adopted a Sensible Salting Resolution to ensure a cleaner environment and reduce salt usage to the point where the City would realize noticeable cost savings. The Resolution adopted by City Council was introduced by the Cuyahoga County Service Directors Association and most Cities throughout the County have adopted very similar Resolutions. Here is a link to South Euclid's Sensible Salting Practices.
Sensible Salting Practices lead to a 30% reduction in salt usage and help to keep our environment clean. Sensible Salting Practices include the following six policies used by the South Euclid Service Department:
- Limited Salting During the Late Evening/Early Morning Hours:
From 11:00 p.m.- 4:00 a.m. very limited salting will take place, as salting is not effective due to low traffic volumes. The goal of the Service Department during this time is to ensure passable roads, which means only intersections, hills, curves, and bridges will be salted. Beginning at 4:00 a.m., the Service Department prepares the roads for rush hour.
- Salting During Snow Events:
During periods of 1’ inch per hour snowfall or greater, main roads will be plowed as frequently as possible. These roads will also be salted at intersections, hills, curves, bridges, and school zones. “Spot Salting” will also be utilized which means roads will be salted at 150 ft. intervals to allow the salt to be effectively spread around.
- Limited Salting on Secondary Roads:
Secondary Roads (side streets) will be plowed as often as possible, but will only be salted at intersections, bridges, hills, curves, and school zones for 200 ft. intervals. Spot Salting will also be used when necessary.
- Proper Training of Employees and Communication of this Policy:
The Service Director is responsible for ensuring all employees understand and follow the City’s Sensible Salting Practices.
- Proper Calibration of Equipment:
All equipment will be calibrated to ensure the Sensible Salting Practices are implemented correctly.
- Investigation of Alternative Products:
The Service Director will continue to investigate, purchase, and utilize other alternative products such as brine and other enhanced deicers.
When conditions warrant, such as those found during and after an ice storm, the City has the ability to salt as necessary, as Safety of the Residents and Visitors of South Euclid remains the number one priority.
Why is salt a problem?
Over-salting not only wastes money and resources but has serious impacts on our environment. Here are some impacts that road salt can have on our environment:
At high concentrations, sodium chloride is toxic to fish and insects, and at low levels it reduces the reproduction and survival rates of their young.
Direct road salt splash can kill plants and grass.
Sodium in road salt can destroy soil stability, decreasing the ability of the soil to filter water, and increasing soil erosion. It can actually cause soil to release more nutrients into water.
What can you do?
- Take our Use the Right S.A.L.T. pledge and receive a mug that when filled with salt is enough for 10 sidewalk squares.
- Talk to your neighbors about salt use and how to salt sensibly!
- Encourage your community to adopt the Sensible Salt Practices if they haven't already!
Blog author: Amy Roskilly, Conservation Education & Communications Manager