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Local communities moving to more eco-friendly snow removal

Wisconsin DNR warns of increased levels of chloride in water supply
Posted at 1:11 AM, Jan 20, 2023

DE PERE — Recent studies from the Wisconsin DNR show that the chloride levels in local waterways continue to rise in part due to excess salt usage during the winter months.

Shannon Haydin is the storm water runoff section manager for the Wisconsin DNR.

She says the increased chloride can impact local fishing.

"More salty water kills off some of the other biology in the waterway that then creates those algae blooms," said Haydin.

Haydin said a recent report from the DNR showed that fifty lakes statewide have been designated as impaired by high salt concentrations.

Tony Fietzer is the street supervisor of De Pere's public works department.

He said the impact can be seen on cars, too.

"Chlorides are corrosive. We're not out to try and rust your car. Any chloride, any salt we put down is going to be corrosive, but by reducing the volume of salt in there we're hoping that we're minimizing that," said Haydin.

But as winter continues, there's an effort in communities like De Pere to use cheaper and more eco-friendly ways to clear the roads.

Fietzer says making the switch from simple rock salt to a salt water called brine can help the environment and the city's bottom line.

"Salt brine can be made very cheap, roughly $0.20 a gallon versus rock salt which is currently going for $75 a ton," said Fietzer.

Brine machines can be hard to come by, making De Pere a popular stop for other areas looking to switch over to a cheaper but still effective de-icing product.

"We do have other municipalities that come that don't have brine making facilities that can come in and purchase brine from us," said Fietzer.

Fietzer also says that not only is excess salt usage negatively impacting waterways, it also has a national impact on infrastructure.

"For every $1 of chlorides we introduced to the roads $10 of infrastructure damages being occurred," said Fietzer.