Concerns raised in Appleton over de-icing salt usage

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - With the first snow approaching fast, a local group is encouraging people to make a major change this winter.

On Thursday, the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance held an informational meeting about addressing the environmental impact of de-icing salts.

With the area's first snowfall weeks, if not days, away, a group is urging more restraint in using road salt this winter.

Kelly Reyer of the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance said, "Salt is a very corrosive material. It impacts concrete, it breaks it down. It has effects on shrubbery, it can kill trees and plants, and in our waterways it can be really harmful to aquatic plants and animals."

A meeting Thursday night in Appleton focused on the long term effects of salt usage and how people can make a difference.

Reyer added, "Examples include shoveling early and often, spreading salt as much as possible so you don't want to see piles of it sitting out there after the snow melts away. Sweeping excess salt after the snow has melted."

Last winter, the state of Wisconsin purchased about $100 million in salt, mostly for roadways.

That was then distributed to local municipalities, and in some cases it wasn't even enough.

In March, Action 2 News told you how Appleton stopped salting residential streets because its salt supply was low.

Last November, Action 2 News also reported on a shift in Outagamie County toward using more brine to treat roads.

Consultant Connie Fortin studies this very issue.

"To stop the problem, we have to stop using salt. That's not practical right now, but what I can say is, the groups that have been, went through training and certified, we can see easily a 50 percent reduction with no decrease in the level of service," said Fortin, who owns Fortin Consulting out of Minnesota.