Did you know stormwater does not go to a wastewater treatment facility? Pollutants that go down the storm drain on the streets where you live, such as salt, grass clippings, leaves, pet waste, fertilizers, pesticides, and residue from automobiles, are funneled untreated to the nearest waterbody.
Those waterbodies can include our local lakes, streams, wetlands, natural and manmade ponds, and rivers—such as the Mississippi. In metro areas, the pond behind your house or the lake down the road most likely receives stormwater runoff.
An ever-increasing environmental stressor to our local waters is salt (de-icer). Melting ice and snow runs off our roofs, sidewalks, and driveways and flows to and down our stormdrains. Any salt picked up on this journey makes its way into our local waterbodies. While salt dissolves in water, it does not break down. It remains a permanent pollutant that accumulates over time. The only known method of removing salt from water is through costly reverse osmosis, which isn’t an option for cleaning up our waterbodies.
Used over the course of a winter, the contents of a 50-pound bag of salt will permanently pollute 10,000 gallons of water.
You can help make an important impact in reducing local water pollution. Sweeping up excess salt and throwing it away (or saving for future use on sidewalks and driveways) helps keep destructive salt out of our waterways. And, by keeping your driveway, street curb, and storm drain swept and clear of pollutants year-round (grass clippings and leaves are also water pollutants as they contain phosphorus which fuels oxygen-depleting algae), you are helping prevent water pollution in your own neighborhood.