In winter and spring, Road salt dissolves easily in water and flows from roads and parking lots into the sewers, and then into our creeks, wetlands, rivers and lakes. The salt levels in groundwater and surface water regularly reach levels that are dangerous for wildlife and waterways!
Excess salt can damage entire aquatic food chains, including zooplankton, salamanders and frogs, fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants. At high concentrations, salt can stunt the growth of some fish, making them more vulnerable to predators. It can move out of balance male-to-female ratios of amphibian populations. It can kill off algae-eating zooplankton, allowing algae to grow unchecked into smelly and hazardous blooms.
Frogs and turtles die when there’s too much salt in lakes and rivers!!!
Why do we use road salt?
The salt impedes the ability of the water molecules to form solid ice crystals. Solutions mixed with salt lowers the freezing temperature of the solution below 32 F. Pre-treating with solid salt relies on the warmer road surface to initially melt any snow or freezing rain so that it can properly mix with the salt.
Several cities are using different concentrations on brine to reduce the amount of salt use… but depending on how the concentration and the weather, the use of road salt can still have negative effects on plants, aquatic animals and wetlands.
An alternative strategy is putting sand on the ice to provide a rough surface and then prevent slipping and sliding.
Many research groups have focused on developing alternatives with fewer negative environmental consequences. They include additives such as molasses and beet juice. But they still might use salt.
Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), available at common department stores, is an effective and environmentally harmless salt substitute.
By clearing away slick sidewalks with a shovel or environmentally gentle products, you’re protecting not just turtles, but entire aquatic ecosystems!
If you can afford these alternatives, take a stand and let your choice speak.
Miigwetch/Wela’lin/Thanks for taking action and help protect the turtles, protect mother Earth.