MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – With snow on the ground, the city of Minneapolis is asking its residents to cut back on the salt on the sidewalks to protect the environment in the long run. The city claims that small changes can have a big impact.
As soon as snowflakes fall, the shovel and salt usually follow. But the city has asked its residents to break that habit, promise to “salt wisely” and drop the salt when they can.
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“We understand that using salt for winter road management is a tool, and we depend on it. But it’s a balance between safety and a healthy environment, ”said Shahram Missaghi, water resources coordinator at Minneapolis Public Works.
The problem is that the salt runs out into storm drains, lakes and groundwater. It can be harmful to fish, plants and pets that go for a walk outside. Switching salt to something else while the snow is sticking can help.
Owners at Nicollet Ace Hardware say there is a growing interest in chemical alternatives.
“It’s going up, we’re selling more of it every year,” said co-owner Elena Nelson.
Nelson says her customers in her neighborhood store think about what they are buying. Some found success in chemical-free gravel, which is crushed stone. It does not melt the ice, but it provides traction.
Deborah Pina says she switched two years ago and has not looked back.
“It was not good for the environment, it was not good for my concrete, so I switched to gravel,” she said.
The city still uses salt, but tries to do so sparingly. It says it has gradually reduced its use over the last two decades.