While enjoying the beauty of our snow-covered landscape and the warmth of family and friends, Allen County Partnership for Water Quality (ACPWQ) would like to challenge residents to make sure that they are keeping local waterways in mind! This might seem like an odd request as waterways throughout the county are out of season and out of mind; however, deicing driveways, sidewalks and parking lots can indirectly add chloride to our rivers. This can have a negative impact and leaves homeowners with a lot of power and responsibility.

One teaspoon of deicers from impervious surfaces, or surfaces that do not permit water to move through them, can permanently contaminate five gallons of water. Polluted stormwater impacts water quality and affects local wildlife and plants. ACPWQ has five suggestions for how you can treat sidewalks, driveways and parking lots without harming our waterways.

  • Only put deicers where you need them by treating the paths that are used every day! By decreasing the area treated, one saves money and decreases stormwater pollution.
  • Save money and improve water quality by removing snow from the area before adding deicers. This will decrease the amount of deicers needed to treat a given space.
  • Be mindful of when you put deicers out. Did you know that deicers have a temperature threshold for when it works? If it is colder than 15°F, do not use deicers made from sodium chloride! Instead, consider waiting to treat the area or look into alternatives such as calcium chloride or magnesium chloride.
  • Remember adding more deicers to the ground will not increase the melting potential. A common misunderstanding is the more deicers you put down, the faster the ice will melt. By adding more deicers than necessary, one is only ensuring that more chemicals will pollute our stormwater. Be sure to read the directions before treating an area to ensure correct application.
  • Sweep up any extra deicers once the area is ice-free. The deicer that remains on the ground has no purpose and will pollute stormwater if it stays there.

If you are interested in challenging yourself, use chloride-free products! Some people swear by adding coffee grounds, while others full-heartedly believe in using sand. Most of these home remedies found online will not melt the ice, but they will help provide traction for those extra slick spots! Just remember, when the ice is gone, sweep up whatever you used. Our rivers do not need sand and organic material either!

If you are interested in learning more or have questions, visit us at acwater.org.

Jacquelyn Buck is a water quality education specialist with the Allen County Partnership for Water Quality.

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