Algae blooms linked to ice melt and road salt usage

Local News

We’ve had a fairly mild winter for the most part, but we’ve still had to deal with slippery roads and sidewalks at times. And the ways we deal with them can affect Lake Champlain and other waterways. Today we take a look at a switch you may be able to make, to help the environment, your wallet, and even your back.

Ice, one of winter’s main staples. We’ve relied on rock salt to keep our driveways, walkways and roadways ice-free, so we can travel safely.
But after decades of use, rock salt is taking a toll on the environment.

“Chloride salts don’t break down and they’re not used anywhere in the biological process from the point they’re applied. And they’re water soluble so ninety-five percent of all chloride salts used either by the residential user or the homeowner, ends up in the waterways. And it accumulates because it doesn’t break down,” explains Mitch Vestal, President of Advanced Organics LLC.

Since they don’t break down, they end up collecting at the bottom of lakes, rivers and other bodies of water…
Where they affect many of the organisms that live in these waterways.

Vestal says that “they end up getting smaller, and they can’t consume as much of what we need them to consume. So that’s why we end up with algae blooms and why that problem gets worse as chloride salt accumulations grow.”

We know the problem, and have known it for some time now. That’s one of the reasons why departments of transportation around the country have switched to using a brine based ice melt.

“When you see these brine trucks going out, they actually prevent ice from forming in the first place. So the Carrie Research Institute has documented that there’s about a 73 percent savings, solved by anti-icing versus de-icing.”

Not only are they healthier for the environment, they’re also pet-friendly — and, in some cases, non-toxic.
Now, the option has been extended to homeowners.

“Basically, you could pour a liquid anti-icer into your pump sprayer, and apply it to your sidewalks and driveways, and turn those pump sprayers in to a brine truck if you will,” says Vestal.

These products have mainly been available online until now. But they’re finally starting to appear in larger home improvement retail stores.

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