As winter approaches, we’ll soon see salt-spreading plow trucks on the roads. And Todd Walter, director of the New York State Water Resources Institute, says salt that is washed off the roads stays in the soil for months.
“It gets back down to background levels again sometimes as late as October, so we’re really keeping the system juiced up for a long time,” he explains.
Rain washes salt out of the soil and into streams, rivers, and lakes where it harms crustaceans, amphibians, such as salamanders and frogs, fish, plants, and more. There’s even some concern that road salt might aid the spread of salt-tolerant invasive species.
But there’s a lot highway departments can do, like adding sand to the mixture to reduce the amount of salt used and still keep us safe.
So when winter comes, let’s think like summer and keep the salt around our rims and the sand between our toes.
LISTEN TO THE AUDIO STORY HERE
- Learn more about the increase in salinity levels in water basins in the Cornell Chronicle
- Check out all the impacts that road salt has on the environment with intel from Sustainable Stormwater
- Score more info about the effect road salt has on the environment from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources
The fine print:
- This segment was produced in partnership with Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future
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