StewardshipIn 2023, UT, TMACOG, and PCS continued an ongoing project to help communities adjust road salt methods while reducing its harmful impacts on water. From local research to identifying key watersheds, we’ve got project progress to share!

Ohio EPA awarded the University of Toledo a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, with TMACOG and PCS, to better understand current conditions of urban streams in our area and make recommendations on how to reduce road salt pollution. Worldwide freshwater is becoming saltier and that changes the type and health of fish and macroinvertebrates that can thrive here. Locally we wanted to dig deeper and start making changes to better support aquatic life.

This multi-year grant focuses on developing a chloride reduction plan, and all three partners have important parts. In broad terms, UT will focus on the chloride sampling and science side of things; TMACOG will identify specific equipment upgrades and new policies or practices to reduce salt pollution; and PCS will help coordinate project implementation plans with other organizations and government agencies and identify funding pathways.

The UT team made significant progress on chloride data collection and analysis in our region. They began by analyzing historical chloride data and continued conducting new sampling of over fifty sites across Northwest Ohio waterways. They used this data to create maps of chloride concentrations and identify potential watersheds and even specific areas within a stream in need of reduction. They targeted multiple rounds of sampling in the most impacted waterways, and used this information to identify potential sources of chloride within these areas.

After last year’s workshop to introduce the topic and bring numerous from road staff and stormwater staff from various communities together, the project team began working with individual communities in target watersheds to identify their needs and next steps for reducing chlorides and better managing salt application. With this information, PCS submitted the first Non-Point Source Implementation Strategy in the state to Ohio EPA that includes chloride reduction critical areas, best management practices, and projects.

In 2024, municipalities will continue to submit ideas on how they plan to implement salt management practices for incorporation into plans and additional funding opportunities. PCS and TMACOG will work with these municipalities to help secure policies, plans, and practical equipment to reduce salt application in their communities.