Everything you need to know about chloride pollution, in the form of a music video

By day, Mark Pedelty, Tim Gustafson and Robert Poch are professors at the University of Minnesota. By night, the trio form The Hypoxic Punks, an environmentally conscious folk-punk band spreading eco-friendly messages through catchy tunes and fun music videos like “You Can Build A Garden.”

So, when Pedelty called us on behalf of the Ecosong.net team, expressing interest in creating a music video to help the MWMO’s outreach efforts, our interest was piqued. He proposed a music video that would encourage others to help keep water clean in the Mississippi River and other local water bodies. To learn more about their project idea, we suggested Pedelty and his project partners apply for a Mini Grant.

The Hypoxic Punks.
The Hypoxic Punks.

Pedelty and his team settled on chloride pollution as the subject of their music video. It’s a timely topic. The overuse of deicing chemicals — especially salt — on our roadways is creating an environmental catastrophe. Melting snow and rain flushes the deicing chemicals into stormdrain systems and out to the local lakes, rivers and streams. The chloride from the salt and deicers is toxic to aquatic life and virtually impossible to remove.

Beyond just raising awareness of the issue, Pedelty wanted to encourage fellow residents to take positive actions that could make a real difference for water quality. The MWMO awarded the project $3,000 in funding to help pay for professional videography, video editing, and sound recording and editing by Karl Demer at Atomic K Studios.

Their completed music video (below) serves as an upbeat “how-to” guide on using less salt while still preventing icy sidewalks and driveways. Composer and guitarist Tim Gustafson created lyrics that remind us the downside of ignoring our shovels is that we’re “brining” our waters with salt. The song explains that salt washing into waterways with stormwater is killing fish and birds, while making “our fountain of life” — our drinking water source — saltier.

As the video plays out, you’ll see some lively dance steps and creative choreography as the actors demonstrate the steps to using less salt: Shovel first to prevent ice buildup; select deicers with care (and only if needed); scatter them sparingly; and sweep up any excess to prevent water pollution.

It’s hard to think of a more fun or creative way to address this issue, but those who are interested in more resources can check out our Snow and Ice Removal page, featuring useful links, brochures and videos about smart salting techniques.

We hope you’ll check out the video and join in the movement to stop salting our waterways.

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