While it is the middle of winter and you may not be thinking about brooks and ponds
as you are snug in your house, stormwater problems do not hibernate.
One of the easiest thing that you can do in regards to stormwater in the winter, is make changes in regards to walkway and driveway maintenance. This can be done
by limiting the area that needs deicers and sand for traction. Less area equals less need for harmful deicers.
You can also help reduce damages from
deicer by making more “environmentally sound” choices than salt. Salt which has been used as deicers for years, has cyanide and chloride, corrosive chemicals that kill plants and hurt an animals feet. Alternatives to salt, and new salt reduction techniqueshave been showing up over the years to decrease our dependency on salt.
An example of a salt alternative is formic acid which has been used on airplane runways for years. It has a low toxicity level and is biodegradable. Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) and Calcium chloride are two advertized pet-safe deicers. CMA is far less toxic than salt and about as effective. Calcium Chloride is more potent and can be used in smaller amounts, able to work down to negative 25 degrees Fahrenheit, it has no cyanide but does have chlorine impact. More are being studied, but the impact of large scale usage of alternative deicers itself has not been studied to the extent of salt.
A new salt reduction technique, using a mixture of beet juice and salt, has been studied in Chicago. The mixture works better than pure salt and can reduce the amount of salt needed by 30 %.(http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/eco-friendly/beet-juice-deicer-460313) Many municipals are trying to come up with ways like this, using things like cheese brine in Wisconsin (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/us/wisconsin-finds-another-role-for-cheese-de-icing-roads.html), and molasses-like solutions. Through more research we can discover and study more mixtures that help the salt’s ability melting (or even the alternative deicers’ melting) to find not only an effective solution, but a cost effective one as well.
Together, we can help prevent plant damage, protect our pets, and keep our water clean.