Road salt runoff can pollute waterways - News, Weather & Sports

Road salt runoff can pollute waterways

Tim Joice Tim Joice
Michael Williams Michael Williams

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Salt keeps drivers safe on icy roads. It saves lives in severe winter weather, but its runoff can be toxic to our waterways.

"All of a sudden this gets washed off into this storm drain right here," Tim Joice of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance explained.

The salt, or sodium chloride, changes the water's charge making it toxic for fish. The EPA says Kentucky's waterways aren't in danger compared to colder states though it is a concern.

In Minnesota, there's a campaign against roadway salt. The EPA says they don't test the waterways during the winter in Kentucky. So far this season, 11,000 tons of salt have been spread on Louisville's city streets. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says its trucks can limit the amount of salt they spread.

"We have low rates and high rates depending on how severe the weather is," Michael Williams of the Kentucky Highway Department of Snow & Ice.

They've used anywhere from 95 tons a year to 500,000 tons in 2010 & 11 on state roads. Joice said we should all try to use less and recommends we use no more than a cup and a half of salt for a standard two-car driveway.

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