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Be Salt Wise in the winter

Most people know that salt is effective in melting snow and ice and keeps our roadways safe in the winter. But many people may not realize that the salt we use on sidewalks, driveways and roads is harmful to the environment. Salt doesn’t just go away when the snow/ice melts. It seeps into the ground and into wells, and travels with stormwater into streams and eventually into our  drinking water sources – the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers.

WSSC Water closely monitors the water entering our Patuxent and Potomac Water Filtration Plants and we’ve noticed that over the last 30 year, the average salt levels (sodium and chloride are the two components of salt) have been steadily increasing . The levels peak in the winter months and are higher in years that see more winter weather events. Once sodium or chloride enters our drinking water sources, we cannot remove it during the water filtration process.

Potomac river salt chart Patuxent River Salt chart

Damage Salt Causes

  • Harms aquatic animals and plants in local streams
  • Pollutes soil and water
  • Damages buildings
  • Corrodes vehicles, pavement and water mains
  • Corrosion of water mains can lead to an increase in water main breaks and cause discolored water

What is the impact on human health?

Sodium in drinking water is not a health concern for most of us, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends sodium in drinking water be less than 20 milligrams per liter for those on severely restricted sodium diets. We recommend you talk to your doctor if you have medical conditions sensitive to sodium levels, such as high blood pressure or kidney disease.

Do your part to keep excess salt out of local waterways

Be Salt-wise in winter, easy as 1-2-3
Last Modified: February 11, 2022, 8:42 am EST