Initiative aims to shift culture of ice-melt use

Published in the Star Tribune, February 1, 2023

Minnesota has struggled to kick the habit of oversalting winter sidewalks and roads.

Yes, the ice is dangerous for drivers and pedestrians — but so is the chloride in the runoff that poisons Minnesota’s lakes, streams and rivers, particularly in the Twin Cities. State agencies such as the Department of Transportation, many cities and other public entities have gotten the message and are finding ways to cut salt use, water resource professionals working on the problem say.

But most property managers and snow removal companies have not.

“We’re not seeing that same shift on the private side,” said Jessica Wilson, water resources manager for the city of Edina.

Wilson is seeking to change that. She’s part of the Hennepin County Chloride Initiative launching a “Low Salt, No Salt” campaign this week to put a lid on the buckets of ice melt to protect the water. It’s not another public awareness campaign, but free and hands-on technical assistance for property owners and private salt applicators.

The group is a coalition of 11 cities and watershed districts whose members say they understand the pressure on property owners to avoid hazardous ice. They fear being sued for falls. It’s deeply ingrained that people need to crunch across blue crystals in winter for safety — and people feel vulnerable otherwise, said Laura Jester, administrator of the Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission, who helped develop the new program.

The initial targets of the “Low Salt, No Salt” campaign are the boards of homeowners associations, condos and townhouses; and churches, synagogues and other faithbased communities.

“We feel like those folks have a really vested interested in how the property is managed, where they live or pray,” said Jester.

Read the full Star Tribune article here

If you are interested in having a technical advisor from this initiative come out to your townhome association or faith based organization, contact Education and Outreach Coordinator Gael at