Good Neighbor News – December 2019 – Yard Care Tips, Community Cleanups and More

The Good Neighbor News is a monthly email newsletter with eco-friendly yard care tips, community cleanup opportunities, and stories of good environmental stewardship from around the watershed. Click here to subscribe.

Good Neighbors of the Month:

Downtown Property Managers Learn How to Salt Smart

Over-salting is taking its toll on downtown Minneapolis street trees — and polluting the nearby Mississippi River. That’s why the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization partnered with the Mpls Downtown Improvement District to train property managers on smart salting practices that can save them money while protecting the environment. Learn about the difficult trade-offs many property managers face when choosing how much salt to apply — and the many benefits to reducing salt usage. Read the blog post…

How Much Salt Do You Really Need?

A coffee mug filled with salt.
A 12-ounce coffee mug should hold about 1 pound of salt — enough for 250 square feet of pavement. (Credit: Scott Andre)

Over-salting is one of our most pressing environmental challenges in Minnesota. The excess road salt we use on our paved surfaces causes lasting damage to our rivers and lakes. In fact, one recent study predicted that by 2050, many metro-area lakes will no longer be able to support native aquatic wildlife due to this problem.

The MWMO works with our partners to train snow plow drivers and private contractors in smart salting techniques that help minimize this type of pollution. (We also recently helped Fridley buy smart salting equipment for their snow plows.) But residents can do their part too by being good neighbors and avoiding over-salting their sidewalks and driveways.

So how much salt should you use? WCCO-TV recently aired an excellent story on this topic. Here’s a good rule of thumb:

A standard 12-oz. coffee mug filled with salt is enough to cover ten sidewalk squares or a 20-foot driveway.

Spread your salt granules wide, aiming for 3 inches of space between them. That may not look like very much, but using more won’t help melt the ice faster. Also, double-check the effective temperature range of your specific ice-melt product, which likely contains more than one chemical ingredient. You can use this helpful chart to see which deicing chemicals work at different temperatures.

Use Sand When It’s Too Cold for Salt to Work

Stormdrain caked with road salt.
(Credit: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)

Salt and deicing chemicals only work in certain temperature ranges. For example, salt will not melt ice below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can use sand when it is too cold for salt to work. However, sand is still a common pollutant which can make the water murky, which harms fish, plants and aquatic life, so sprinkle just enough to provide traction on walkways. Sweep up any excess salt or sand after the ice melts so that it doesn’t get carried into stormdrains. You can toss the extra, or reuse it.

Upcoming Events

Mini Grants Info Session

Wednesday, January 15, Noon – 1:00 p.m.

Have an idea for promoting clean water and habitat in your community? Learn how to apply for a Mini Grant from the MWMO’s Stewardship Fund! Join us for this free information session, where you can find out more about the grant program, network with others and ask questions. Details…

Minneapolis Community Connections Conference

Saturday, February 1, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Community Connections Conference is an annual free event that fosters connections between the residents of Minneapolis, community groups, neighborhoods and local government. Stop by the MWMO table, grab a Good Neighbor Guide and tell us your priorities for our upcoming Watershed Management Plan update. Details…

Latest News

January 24, 2020

Twin Cities first ‘eco-mosque’ hoping to solve flooding issue, bring community together

KSTP-TV - Jan. 24, 2020

A Minneapolis mosque plagued with flooding issues is getting a much-needed makeover. Thanks to grant money from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and Hennepin County, the Masjid An-Nur mosque is set to become the first “eco-mosque” in the Twin Cities.
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January 20, 2020

What’s killing Nicollet Mall’s trees?

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal - Jan. 20, 2020

[…] The DID and Mississippi Watershed Management Organization are talking with downtown property owners and holding training sessions to try to reduce over-salting of sidewalks and parking lots.
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January 20, 2020

Could cutting back on salt save downtown Minneapolis trees?

MPR News - Jan. 20, 2020

The Downtown Improvement District, which works to make downtown cleaner, greener, safer and more attractive, teamed up with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, which focuses on the health of the nearby river, to encourage property managers to use less salt around their buildings.
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