Road salt keeps us safe on roads and sidewalks during the winter months. Towns, cities, businesses, and individuals dump roughly 20 million tons of salt on roads, sidewalks, and parking lots every year. And as snow melts or rain falls, that salt gets washed into our storm drains, our streams, and even into our drinking water.
In 2017, a Fellow at the Izaak Walton League of America noticed a huge pile of salt left by a salt truck sitting directly next to a storm drain. That salt was headed right for the Muddy Branch, a small stream that travels through Maryland and feeds into the Potomac. He contacted the local government to try and address the problem. He quickly discovered that the world of road salt is a complicated one, and that its effects on our waterways are not well known or well studied. Inspired by the success of the League's Save our Streams community science program, IWLA staff launched Salt Watch to mobilize citizens and monitor chloride levels in local creeks and streams over the winter months.
For the new season, we aim to partner with more local groups, double the submissions we receive, and help volunteers advocate for smarter salt use in their community. You can join us and become a salt watcher too!