How much road salt makes it into our drinking water?

After each winter, all the road salt eventually gets broken down and the chemicals get into local creeks and lakes

Meander Reservoir

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – We have seen plenty of salt on the roads this winter. It’s even all over our cars. But when it rains, the salt is eventually broken down and washes away into nearby creeks and lakes.

Flint Michigan is having a water crisis due to pipe corrosion. It got that way because too much salt got into the water system.

More than 20 million tons is applied to roads, parking lots, sidewalks and driveways each year nationwide.

After each winter, all that salt eventually gets broken down and the chemicals get into local creeks and lakes.

“The bad content, you know you need sodium, need calcium, you need potassium for our health. But the bad content is the chloride, and the chloride can increase in your source water,” said Ramesh Kashinkunti, chief engineer for the Meander Reservoir.

Chemical salt is one part sodium and one part chloride. It’s that one part chloride that is monitored daily.

“Too much chloride and it can become corrosional to the pipes that we send the water through,” Kashinkunti said.

According to the EPA, the contamination level or chloride in drinking water is 250 milligrams per liter, but do those levels ever get into our drinking water?

“When the snow is applied, it can do up to 80 to 90 parts. We are still well, well below stipulated 250 milligrams per liter,” Kashinkunti said.

So even though there is an increase, it is nowhere near dangerous levels. This is because there are safety measures in place.

“Our reservoir is 10 billion gallons of water, so dilution is the solution to pollution,” Kashinkunti said.

Even though road salt has an effect on the drinking water, constant monitoring keeps levels in the safe range.


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