Melting Snow: Protect the lakes, rivers (and paws!)

Dog getting paws checked at the Twin Cities Loppet nordic ski race. Photo © Michelle F. Johnson 2011

Sidewalk Salt and Water Quality

As snow and ice melt, it washes into our lakes and the river. The salt and sand sprinkled on hard surfaces, such as sidewalks and driveways, goes with this melting flow and pollutes our lakes, creeks and the river. Once the salt is in the water, there is no way to remove it. Salt is an ongoing threat to water quality.

Just how potent is salt?
The chloride found in one teaspoon of road salt is enough to permanently pollute five gallons of water. Chlorides in high concentrations:

  • negatively impact aquatic organisms
  • harm the structure of aquatic environments by reducing diversity and productivity
  • increase bird deaths
  • damage plants, turf grass, and trees
  • injure the paws of dogs who walk on it

How can you help?

Shovel first
The more snow you can remove from the sidewalk or driveway, the less salt you need. Try to Continue reading

Last Chance for Fall Cleanup!

Water & Debris running into storm drainThe forecast says we have a few days left to button things up before you-know-what, but today’s “Arctic Blast” is a sure sign of the inevitable.  And Judging from the the multitude of paper compost bags lining the curbs on my block this morning, nearly everyone in the neighborhood has been out tending to the last minute chores of fall.

What can you do?

While you’re out there, please consider taking a few minutes to remove debris from a storm drain near you. The street sweeping crews are done for the season, but the trees weren’t, so there are a lot of leaves in the street.

Ten minutes clearing out a storm drain (and maybe even the nearby street) will go a long way toward protecting water quality in Diamond Lake and other lakes and streams. All those leaves, trash, and other gunk eventually end up in the lake, overfeeding vegetation and otherwise polluting the water, making it — without getting too technical — ugly & stinky.

To those who have adopted a storm drain — three cheers!  (Hint: Now’s a great time to check in on your little iron child.)  Friends of Diamond Lake would love to know how it’s going. Please feel free to add your comments at the end of this post.

Button up, clean a storm drain.  Your lake will reward you with cleaner water.

Thanks, and stay warm!

You might also want to check out these simple year-round yard care tips for water quality from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.