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EAC Member Examines the Impact of Road Salt

  • 12 February 2019
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EAC Member Examines the Impact of Road Salt

Reston Association Environmental Advisory Committee member, Doug Britt, is one of several Reston residents who are monitoring local tributaries this winter to determine the impact road de-icing agents are having on the environment.

So far, reports have shown that chemicals are entering area lakes and streams, and may contaminate drinking water and have negative effects on plants and animals, according to Britt. Salts used to treat roadways are also having adverse impacts on infrastructure, vehicles and other property.

Britt, a Virginia Master Naturalist member, stated in an article he wrote that “chloride concentrations in Fairfax County surface waters have steadily increased for the past 25 years.” The EAC member attributes the increase to the rise in de-icing agents.

The Izaack Walton League of America has initiated a Winter Salt Watch program, which encourages citizen scientists like Britt to monitor local streams before and after road salting activities. So far this winter, Britt has noted significant increases in chloride at Difficult Run and Sugarland Run. Anyone wishing to participate in the Winter Salt Watch program may do so through the Izaack Walton League of America website or contact Will Peterson, Reston Association’s Watershed Manager (wpeterson@reston.org).

Britt is hoping Restonians will be more “cognizant of the potential environmental impacts associated with the application of de-icing agents” as more information is made available about the impacts of de-icing agents.

The EAC’s mission is to advise Reston Association's Board of Directors on the ecologically sound management of the association’s environmental resources, including its waters, natural areas and wildlife.

Click here to read Britt’s article on the environmental impacts of road salt.

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