Just one teaspoon of salt in five gallons of water creates a concentration toxic to some aquatic life and increases the corrosivness of water.
Road salts and most deicers contain chloride. When the snow and ice melt, the salty runoff flows down the storm drains to the North Platte River. Chloride is virtually impossible to remove from a waterbody.
Avoid chloride pollution with these tips: – Shovel early and often to prevent snow compaction and ice formation.
– Scrape ice with an ice scraper or ice chisel.
– Salt or de-ice as a last resort. Salt or de-ice ONLY if pavement temperature is warm enough for application to be effective. Otherwise, lightly sprinkle sand for traction.
– Sweep residue after the melt to prevent residual salt, de-icer, or sand from washing into storm drains.
Urban snowmelt runoff carries diverse pollutants, like gas combustion products, snowmelting agents, and automotive exhaust, which threaten the quality of the receiving waters, like the North Platte River.
Pollutants can affect water quality faster two ways in winter. First, snow collects contaminants and releases them in concentrated form during melts. Second, the partially frozen state of rivers lessen the ability for self-purification.
Keeping walks and driveways clear, using snowmelt “sparingly and caringly”, and driving only when necessary are good winter water quality measures.
As much as 75 percent of water supplies in some western states are derived from snowmelt, according to the United States Geological Service (USGS). The Nebraska Panhandle relies heavily on snowmelt for our water supply – so taking care of our snow means taking care of our water.