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How Does Road Salt Use in the Winter Affect Your Water?

Road salt is viewed as essential, especially during severe winter weather conditions. White lines are common along roads when there is heavy snow, and you have probably noticed them before. Salting methods make us feel fortified against icy conditions, which can cause dangerous traffic accidents. However, while road salt makes roads less slick, too much can negatively impact your water supply.

What is in Road Salt?

In most cases, road salt includes a mixture of sodium and chloride. Though some of the sodium is filtered through soil, most of the chloride flows into water sources after rainfall.

According to a 2017 study, almost half of over 200 freshwater lakes in the Northeast and Midwest are over-saturated with salt. One out of every ten has been impacted to such a degree that marine life is at risk of collapse. In urban areas, the amount of chloride in freshwater lakes typically skyrockets as development increases.

How Road Salt Affects Your Water Supply

Road salt is extremely damaging to the environment. In addition to killing local plants and wildlife, it can leach into your water supply and cause a whole host of issues. If you’re concerned about the salt levels in your water, contact Hague Quality Water of Maryland today for a test. You and your loved ones rely on healthy drinking water, and we can eliminate excessive salt with various water treatment methods. If you’re curious about how road salt impacts your water, here are a few problems that may arise:

  1. Corrosion on water pipes. The chloride present in road salt can oxidize the water pipes in and around your home. Over time, heavy corrosion can cause your pipes to become damaged or perforated. If you notice red or blue-green stains on your plumbing fixtures or frequent leaks, that could be a sign of rust. Additionally, chloride contamination was a major part of the Flint water crisis in Michigan.
  2. Increased levels of lead. As the metal in your pipes corrodes due to chloride, lead chips off and ends up in your water supply. Lead is toxic to humans and can be hazardous in drinking water even at low quantities. Unfortunately, many water departments around the nation aren’t aware of the risks associated with elevated chloride levels. In fact, areas that experience heavy snowfall and substantial urban development are more likely to infringe upon lead regulations.
  3. Other potential health hazards. High salt content in water can be particularly harmful for those who suffer from high blood pressure or heart, kidney and liver diseases. Ideally, people restricting their sodium intake should not drink water with sodium levels reaching above 20 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The average person already consumes about 3,400 milligrams of salt per day in the food they eat. In certain cases, excess sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure among other health concerns.

What You Can Do

When winter weather strikes, it’s difficult to avoid road salt entirely. Most of the time, its usage is beyond our control. However, there are a handful of ways you can mitigate this issue in your community.

  • Contact your local government. If you’re concerned about the impact of road salt on your town’s water supply, let your local officials know. Some areas now utilize “live edge” snowplows that mold to the shape of roads, and these can limit excessive salt application. Salt piles can also be covered to make sure they don’t spread or leach into the water after rainfall. It’s possible that your local government is already implementing solutions, but getting in touch to find out more never hurts.
  • Don’t spread any salt on your driveway or paths. Snowplows and trucks already use a high amount of road salt in winter, and adding to this worsens the problem. Eco-friendly ice melts are widely available and just as effective.
  • Have your water tested regularly. If you’re concerned about the salt levels in your water supply, that’s completely understandable. The only way to know for sure what’s in your water is to have it tested with Hague Quality Water. We’ve been in the business since 1993, and you can count on us to provide you with high quality filtered drinking water. Our certified lab testing will give you accurate, timely results every time.

Contact Hague Quality Water of Maryland for a Water Test

If you are concerned about road salt or the overall quality and contents of your water, we are here to help with your water improvement projects. We offer a variety of water treatment and filtration products to suit the needs of your home. We also offer water testing to ensure the quality of you water supply. For additional assistance, call Hague Quality Water of Maryland at (410) 757-2992.