Mankato Area Chloride Management Plan

Salt has been increasingly used to keep winter roads free of ice and snow since the 1940s. Each year, nearly 12 million dollars is spent on winter maintenance products, mostly road salt (NaCl), by public agencies in Minnesota. This does not include costs associated with equipment, maintenance, or personnel (Novotny, Sander, Mohseni and Stefan, 2007). While road salt use has benefits in terms of safety and traffic-flow, there have also been cumulative costs to our infrastructure and environment: -A University of Washington researcher estimates that the US currently spends $2.3 billion each year to remove snow and ice from highways. It then costs another $5 billion to pay for the resulting damage. -The University of Minnesota determined that 78% of all chloride applied in the Twin Cities through the use of road salt is retained in the environment and continues to accumulate (Novotny, Sander, Mohseni and Stefan, 2009). -High concentrations are toxic to fish, macro-invertebrates and birds; lower concentrations can affect water chemistry and aquatic community structure, diversity and productivity. Salt on soils can impair or kill terrestrial plants and reduce soil stability and permeability and increase the potential for soil erosion. -A 2012 MPCA report on groundwater indicated that: One-third of wells that were sampled show increased chloride concentrations and ground water and the Twin Cities Metro area is impacted by chloride with 27% having concentrations greater than drinking water guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. -Removing salt from our lakes, streams, wetlands, and groundwater is logistically difficult and not financially feasible. Because of this, we must find ways to reduce or prevent salt from entering freshwater systems.
Date Issued
2010 (year uncertain)
Number of Pages
Minnesota Freshwater Society (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Rights Holder
Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
Rights Management
Creative Commons