While salting is effective in melting the snow, if used in excess it does more harm than good. Salt used throughout winter does not disappear once the snow melts. It finds its way into our soil and water resources via runoff, harming plants and animals. Excessive salt use also wears down roads and sidewalks at a much faster rate, making road maintenance more expensive for the City.
A report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency shows a growing problem with salt contamination in our lakes and streams. As little as one teaspoon of salt can permanently pollute five gallons of water. Once in the water, there is no cost effective way to remove the salt.
What You Can Do
As a resident or business of Hopkins’ you are responsible for clearing a reasonable amount of snow and ice off your sidewalk within 12 hours of a snowfall.* To avoid getting fined, you may be tempted to dump salt on your driveway or sidewalk and call it a day… but stop right there! More salt does not translate to better results and it can be more harmful in extremely cold weather events.
Shoveling and non-chemical methods are the most ideal for reducing salt contamination. However, if you need to salt, it is recommended to use about one 12 ounce coffee mug of salt per ten sidewalk squares or one driveway.
Smart Salting Guidelines
- Shovel and physically move snow when possible
- If salt is needed, do not use more than the prescribed amount
- Remember, more is not better when it comes to salt.
*If there is still concern over being fined, make sure to document your efforts so that you can dispute any claims. The requirement is that you make a reasonable effort to remove snow/ice, so as long as a reasonable effort has been made, there should be no issue.
How the City Practices Smart Salting
As a city that cares about our local environment, we strive to practice what we preach. Hopkins Public Works makes an active effort to reduce the City’s salt use on our roads.
We do this by using mechanical means to remove snow and ice when possible and follow with a less potent liquid salt brine when more intense methods are required. The goal of this is to reduce damage to our roads and protect our precious water resources.