Tools and materials for partners and stakeholders interested in minimizing the impact of chloride on Minnesota lakes, rivers, and groundwater.
Statewide chloride management plan
The MPCA, in collaboration with several partners, completed the State Chloride Management Plan to help local government units, winter maintenance professionals, decision-makers, and others take action to protect Minnesota’s water resources from chloride pollution and to:
- Understand sources of chloride
- See trends in chloride pollution statewide
- Prioritize critical areas for reducing salt use
- Research and implement strategies to reach local goals
- Impacts of stormwater infiltration on chloride in Minnesota groundwater (Minnesota Ground Water Association, Nov. 2020)
- Chloride contributions from water softeners and other domestic, commercial, industrial, and agricultural sources to Minnesota waters (University of Minnesota)
- Costs and benefits of household water softening: a review (University of Minnesota)
- Regional assessment of river water quality in the Twin Cities metro area 1976 - 2015 (Metropolitan Council)
- Increasing chloride in U.S. rivers (U.S. Geological Survey)
- The reduction of influent chloride to wastewater treatment plants by the optimization of residential water softeners (Madison WI Metropolitan Sewerage District)
Chloride working group reports (wastewater)
The MPCA formed a work group of eight city representatives and two consulting engineers to study the problem of chloride in wastewater. Learn more:
MPCA surface water monitoring guidance
The MPCA administers several programs that can assist organizations looking to address salt use and chloride pollution:
- Chloride reduction grant – The MPCA received Clean Water Funds to create a new chloride reduction grant program. The first grant targeted reductions from business and industrial water softening systems. Visit the Grants and loans page to see current funding opportunities and sign up to notified when new funding is available.
- Minnesota GreenCorps – Places AmeriCorps members with host organizations around the state to assist with a variety of environmental efforts, including reducing salt use and minimizing chloride pollution
- GreenStep Cities – A free, voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program to help Minnesota cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. Reducing salt use is one of the recommended best practices.
- Small Business Environmental Assistance – MPCA's program for helping small businesses meet regulatory obligations and reduce their impact on the environment. Currently offering zero-interest loans to businesses to upgrade equipment to reduce salt use.
- Clean Water Partnership loans - MPCA offers zero-interest loans to local government and tribal communities to implement practices that reduce non-point sources of chloride pollution.
Other financial assistance
Lower Minnesota Collaborative grants offer financial support and resources to businesses and local government units for tools and practices which reduce, directly or indirectly, chloride usage by that organization. Entities must operate within Bloomington, Chanhassen, Chaska, Edina, Eden Prairie, Deephaven, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Shorewood, and Richfield.
The MPCA partnered with the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District, TetraTech, several local cities and watershed organizations to develop a suite of model ordinances that communities can choose to implement. There are several options to consider which are intended to assist with reducing salt pollution.
Example regulatory rules, policies, and ordinances
Several organizations have implemented various rules, polices and ordinances to reduce salt pollution in their community.
- Nine Mile Creek Watershed District Rules
- City of Waukesha Softener Salt Program
- Ordinance and Water Softener Rebate Program, Pinckney, MI
Site winter maintenance management plan templates
The Hennepin County Chloride Initiative (HCCI), a Clean Water Fund project to reduce chloride in water through a coalition of cities and watershed organizations in Hennepin County, has created a winter maintenance/chloride management plan template. The vision for this template is to be used at the time of development or redevelopment permitting to require/request the property manager/responsible party to develop a winter maintenance plan.
- Calculator for chloride management plan (HCCI)
- Basic winter maintenance plan template (HCCI)
- Intermediate winter maintenance plan template (HCCI)
- Detailed winter maintenance plan template (HCCI)
Model snow and ice policies
The model snow and ice policy is designed to help county and city governments adopt winter maintenance policies that include protecting the environment among their goals.
- City of Eagan snow and ice control policy
- City of Le Sueur snow removal policy
- City of Rochester snow and ice control
- University of Wisconsin Madison Outdoor Salt Use Policy
Model winter maintenance contract
The city of Edina developed a model contract for snow and ice management that embraces best practices to minimize environmental impacts from salt and other chemicals. Property owners can adapt the model contract to suit their needs and to ensure their contractors are protecting Minnesota waters from chloride pollution.
Resources for organizations engaged in education and outreach on chloride pollution.
New! Minneapolis Salt mini-course
GreenCorps members with the City of Minneapolis created an online salt mini-course program to teach residents the environmental impacts and best practices for using de-icing salt for winter roads and sidewalks.
- Hold the salt to protect Minnesota water (Washington County) — This short, fun video explains the problem with salt in an easy-to-understand cartoon graphics and offers suggestions on what you can do to help protect our Minnesota water.
- More isn't always better (City of Edina) — Sometimes more isn't better. this PSA on salt use reminds Edina residents and businesses to limit the amount of salt used to melt ice in the winter.
- Chloride and our water: Monitoring the mix — Shows MPCA staff monitoring for chloride and discussing the issues with chloride contamination
- Improved winter maintenance: Good choices for clean water (Mississippi Watershed Management Organization) — Comprehensive overview of the issues with chloride pollution and how to avoid it
- The changing Earth: Chlorides in water (University of Minnesota, Water Resources Center) — A look at the U of MN research into chloride in Minnesota water, with specific information about the role of water softening.
- Watershed by The Hypoxic Punks (Mississippi Watershed Management Organization) — A music video designed to educate viewers on chloride pollution
- Safe sidewalks for pets (Wisconsin Salt Wise) — About the dangers that sidewalk salt poses to pets
Posters, postcards, and other printables
- Brochure: Fight snow and ice, pollution free (Mississippi Watershed Management Organization)
- Brochure: How to hire a contractor that uses less salt (9 Mile Creek Watershed District)
- Brochure: Choosing a deicer (9 Mile Creek Watershed District)
- Brochure: Don't pass the salt (City of Farmington)
- Brochure: Be salt wise (WI Salt Wise)
- Poster: Pledge to be salt smart (Clean Water MN)
- Tip card: Use salt wisely (Clean Water MN)
News stories and press releases
- Bluegills and salty waters (Prairie Sportsman, PBS)
- We’re pouring millions of tons of salt on roads each winter. Here’s why that’s a problem. (Ensia magazine)
- Road salt is polluting our water. Here's how we can fix it (MPR)
- Road and sidewalk salt worries (TPT Almanac) — MPCA staffer Brooke Asleson highlights problems with salt getting in Minnesota waterways.
- Wisconsin Salt Wise outreach tools (WI Salt Wise)
- Chloride in communities and watersheds (U of MN Water Resources Center)
- Chloride Reduction program (Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District)
- Road salt: Can we have safe roads and healthy streams? (Lake Superior Streams)
Water softening rebate guide
The MPCA partnered with the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District, TetraTech, several local cities, watershed organizations and local water treatment professionals to develop guidance for communities interested in developing and implementing a rebate program to reduce chloride from home water softeners. This first of its kind guide includes valuable information, resources and specific examples for implementing a successful water softening rebate program.
Water softening resources
- Water softening (U of MN, Water Resources Center) — Information on how salt from water softening is affecting Minnesota's lakes and streams
- Residential water softening (U of MN Water Resources Center)
- In Morris and other cities, solving a salty problem in municipal water (MPR)
- Water Softening Best Practices Guidelines (Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District)
- Water softening for residents (Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District)
- Dane County Water Softener Upgrades – Case study about actions taken to reduce salt use through water softener tuneups and upgrades (WI Salt Wise)