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Winter Stormwater Tips From Franklin County

Amy Kolb Noyes
Franklin County Stormwater reminds us to think about water quality when cleaning up snow and ice.

Did you know most salts won't melt ice when the temperature is below 15 degrees Fahrenheit? Or that cracked corn is a good traction alternative to sand or kitty litter?

Stormwater management may seem like a summer problem, but the education and outreach collaborative Franklin County Stormwater says stormwater is an issue even in the forms of ice and snow. The group has some creative tips to help you manage stormwater – be it the frozen or liquid kind – around your home.

"Stormwater pollution is a year-round concern," the collaborative's website states. "We may sand and salt to control winter’s climate but after the ice melts the remaining materials can get into our waterways and pose a threat to the health of our streams and fish."

Franklin County Stormwater offers the following tips to managing ice and snow on driveways and walkways:

  • Shovel early. The more snow and ice you remove, the less salt you will have to use and the more effective it can be.
  • More salt does not mean more melting. Apply appropriately, salt takes time to work. Consider purchasing a hand-held spreader to help you apply a consistent amount.
  • Fifteen degrees Fahrenheit is too cold for salt. Most salts stop working at this temperature. Use a traction agent as needed, but remember they do not melt ice.
  • Sweep up excess. Salt or sand on dry pavement is no longer doing any work, sweep it up before it is washed away and apply less the next time.
  • Try an alternative for traction. Sand and kitty litter are effective but can clog sewers and degrade stream habitat when washed away. Cracked corn can be an alternative to try that is more environmentally friendly.
  • Understand what’s in it. All de-icers will melt the ice but some have less of an impact on the environment. Instead of sodium chloride or calcium chloride use products containing an acetate, potassium chloride, or magnesium chloride.
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