County Hopes To Put Brainerd Area Lakes On Low-Salt “Diet”
It only takes one teaspoon of road salt to permanently pollute five gallons of water. This is why a new initiative in the Brainerd Lakes Area was started to limit the amount of salt used on area roadways and sidewalks during the winter so less of it ends up in our lakes.
“I think some people are surprised about the environmental impacts. It affects not only the toxicity but the whole ecological way our lakes work,” said Carolyn Dindorf, a limnologist and Vice President at Fortin Consulting, who put on the workshop.
The Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District hosted workshops this week in Baxter to teach local contractors and plow operators ways to reduce salt use.
“If we continue to keep using salts at the rate now, and higher, we’re going to continue to contaminate more of our water bodies,” explained Dindorf. “It can be toxic to aquatic life. It affects the way our lakes turnover.”
Some ways of limiting salt use are making sure operators are applying the appropriate amount of salt and also by using other ways of ice management such as sand or de-icing.
“Things like calibration which means they need to know how much salt they’re putting out at different settings on their equipment, better use of equipment so that they’re removing things mechanically before using salt,” Dindorf added. “There’s a lot of different things they can do that we’re talking about today.”
The hope is that if we limit the amount of salt we use on our roads, we will keep our lakes clean and healthy for years to come.
Everyone that attended the workshops and passed the end-of workshop test were certified as “smart salters” by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.