The ice man cometh

January 16, 2017

Uptown Wedge resident Joe Knaeble is concerned with a problem that is mostly invisible: increasing levels of salt in groundwater due to its overuse as a deicer. Perhaps less invisible is the sidewalk salt that remains after an over-zealous application of the product to urban sidewalks and roadways.
 
“If you see salt, it was overdone,” he says.
 
Most of this problem comes from an American obsession with efficiency. “We are expected to get to work on time, despite the weather,” he notes.
 
“One of our many environmental problems is that we expect convenience, and don’t even know the price, environmentally.”
 
(Many Minnesotans think clearing snow and using salt and deicers is the only way to deal with snow on the roads. But compare this to equally challenging Nordic climates, where packing snow instead of clearing streets is the norm, where driving with some of the world’s best snow tires makes such travel manageable, and where snow-packed city streets are navigated with kicksleds.)

 Knaeble’s concern with the overuse of salt has led him to sweep more than 270 pounds of excess deicing chemicals from his neighborhood over the past two winters. With the support of neighborhood volunteers, they are trying to prevent metro area bodies of water from becoming as salty as the sea — a problem that is largely irreversible. [Read the full article here].