Keeping Maryland moving during a winter weather event depends on the cooperation of many State and local government agencies. Treatment for ice and snow is a top priority in keeping our citizens safe and our roads clear for business.
In their own home and yards, homeowners are using salts and sand mixtures around homes, sidewalks and parking areas to combat ice and snow.
But what happens when the ice and snow melt?
With an increase in the usage of salts comes an increase of salt in our waterways. A recent study in Minnesota suggests that 70 percent of salt applied to roads stays with the region’s watershed; moreover it can take decades for the salt to flush out of a watershed. Research indicates that although chloride can originate from natural sources, most of the chloride that enters the environment is associated with the storage and application of road salt. Road salt accumulation and persistence in watersheds poses risks to aquatic ecosystems, water quality and potential impacts to drinking water.
As winter snow melts and spring rains begin, stormwater carries salt that has accumulated over the winter into stormdrains and surface waters such as lakes, ponds, drinking water reservoirs and streams. Road deicing is the most likely cause of increases in sodium and chloride concentrations in the Baltimore reservoirs since the 1980s. Road salt and sand that reach our waterways can:
State and local jurisdictions are using best management practices to keep roads clear of snow and our waterways free from its damaging effects. Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA) in conjunction with MDE published best management practices in October 2013 that includes:
Many Maryland residents use salt to reduce ice accumulation on steps, walkways and driveways. Not only do deicers impact water quality, but they can damage or kill vegetation near the application sites. Harsh chemicals can also be dangerous for children and pets. Tips for reducing or eliminating the use of excessive deicers at home include:
Office of Communications410firstname.lastname@example.org
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230