This page is a part of the final presentation project of student participants in Future Leaders in Planning (FLIP).
This web page is to raise awareness in residents on the environmental concerns of using salt in ice prevention and removal. The page outlines the basics of the problem, as well as links to a detailed brochure and a video exploring how to use salt effectively and de-icing alternatives.
Environmental Effects of Overusing Road Salt
Aquatic life is highly impacted by high salinity in water sources. Salt runoff usually pollutes streams and other bodies of water and raises the salinity of the water, harming various species of fish and other aquatic life very crucial to the health of the area.
Animals that eat street salt can develop a disorder that makes them lose their instinct to be scared of humans and cars. They are more likely to run into the street or approach an unknown human.
This also applies to birds that often mistake salt crystals for seeds and become less afraid of humans creating an annoying bird problem like the one may see on many Chicago streets.
The quality of drinking water is also affected by increased salt in steams. Because most of the rivers, streams, and lakes are connected, drinking water is almost always affected. More salt means more chemicals the water filters must use to cleanse the water thus more expensive water filtration.
There is something we can do about these harmful effects of salt. We can use less salt and use it more efficiently with the steps listed on this page. However, the goal to completely eliminate the use of salt is not realistic. Too many communities have been using it for too long to quit using it entirely. Therefore, we must also have other methods of protecting wildlife and water sources.
Native plants are a great way to limit salt runoff into streams. Their roots are extremely long therefore they are not affected by salt intake like normal crab grass that lies on the banks of most streams.
When the salt runs off of the streets and paths into the grass usually next to it, the soil absorbs some of the salt while the rest goes into the stream. Native plants would absorb more.
Native grasses look good in the area and are good for wildlife because they belong there.
Click here for simple tips to reduce our salt impact and save money.