De Pere shows efforts to reduce salt pollution at winter road equipment open house

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 5:18 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - Before winter sneaks up on us, the City of De Pere showed off its snow and ice equipment that reduces salt pollution.

Many area municipalities joined in Thursday, interested in reducing salt usage while keeping roads clear.

Since 2009, De Pere’s Department of Public Works has been using liquid salt brine for anti-icing and de-icing, instead of rock salt alone.

“About every dollar spent on salt, we do $10 of damage to our roads, and our bridges, and our vehicles,” said Allison Madison, sustainability and development coordinator for Wisconsin Salt Wise.

The brine is a solution of sodium chloride and water.

“Every one teaspoon of salt pollutes five gallons of water, and salt is a permanent pollutant in our water. So, the sooner that we can get folks using best practices, the more sustainable our freshwater resources will be,” said Madison.

Several neighboring municipalities and state lawmakers discussed salting practices, goals, and barriers for winter maintenance at De Pere’s Municipal Service Center.

“This event is some networking opportunities for our staff to talk to other communities for them to see what we are doing, what steps we’ve taken, the responses that we’ve got, and the equipment that we have. And then for us to also take from them, the things that they do that’s working for them,” said De Pere Street Superintendent Tony Fietzer..

A coalition called Wisconsin Salt Wise, which co-sponsored the event, works to reduce salt pollution in our lake streams and drinking water.

“A number of Wisconsin municipalities are using it. Not everybody has the ability to make their own, so like De Pere here is selling to like Ledgeview and some of the other smaller communities in the area, so they don’t have to have their own brine maker but they can still use this great technology,” said Madison.

Madison says the coalition started when Dane County Public Health noticed chloride concentrations continuing to increase.

“We’re seeing about a million tons a year of salt go into Lake Michigan. Also, they’re seeing the salt show up in groundwater wells, so that’s our drinking water,” Madison stated.

Wisconsin Salt Wise says not only does salt brine work faster, but it saves money while benefiting the environment.

“Some salt wise communities in Wisconsin have reduced their salt use by 50%, some even more,” said Madison.

To learn more information about Wisconsin Salt Wise’s efforts, click here.

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