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Being Salt Wise

In the Yahara Watershed, salt applied to roads and sidewalks ultimately makes its way into our lakes and our drinking water. Road salt has been used as a deicer on streets in Dane County since the 1950s, and over the last 50 years, average concentrations of chlorides from salt in our lakes have steadily increased.

Yahara Lakes Annual Chloride Concentration

Graph showing the rising salt concentrations in the lakes since 1960. The rise has been especially dramatic for a small, urban lake like Lake Wingra.

Graph showing the rising salt concentrations in the lakes since 1960. The rise has been especially dramatic for a small, urban lake like Lake Wingra.

To help reduce salt pollution in our watershed, a coalition of city and county agencies, educators, and environmental groups called the Wisconsin Saltwise Partnership is working to get the word out about responsible salt use. Partners have taken note: Friends of Lake Wingra is actively involved in salt outreach efforts and communities are taking steps to use salt wisely, by applying the correct amount of salt, using diluted salt brine ahead of storms, and paying attention to temperatures.

You can help by educating yourself on salt use, practicing safe winter driving, and by letting your municipality know that you support efforts to reduce salt use. Visit wisaltwise.com to learn more.

This article was first published in the 2015 State of the Lakes Annual Report. Special thanks to Wisconsin Saltwise Partnership for their contributions.

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