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Cutting Down on Road Salt During Winter May Benefit Environments and Budgets Alike

Sarah Scott
Peoria Public Radio

A snow removal expert says it is important for plow drivers to use the least amount of salt possible on the roadways to limit environmental impacts. 

Mark DeVries was the keynote speaker at the Snow and Ice Workshop in East Peoria for public works employees on Tuesday. He said once salt gets into the water system, it can have some serious impacts.

“So no matter what we’re using, we want to use only what we need in winter maintenance," he said.  

High amounts of salt in drinking water can create an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. And once it’s there, it’s there forever. 

DeVries said salt is a necessary evil to keep the roads safe every winter. But for plow drivers, he says it is important to keep those impacts to a minimum by using the least amount of salt possible. 

There's also significant cost savings attached to using less salt. 

“We try to make them think that if you put down a ton of salt, it lasts a couple hours. If you put down a ton of asphalt, it lasts for 20 years. You think in those terms, it can make a difference in how you’re actually thinking," DeVries said.

He says those same dollars can then be put toward road maintenance instead of salt. 

But DeVries said many drivers he talks to are moved more by environmental concerns than fiscal impacts when he brings up the arguments for cutting down salt usage. 

The National Weather Service in Lincoln forecasts the greater Peoria area could face 1 to 2 inches of snow overnight Tuesday. 

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.