Montgomery County and WSSC Water Launch 2023 Salt Wise Campaign: A Call for Responsible Winter Salt Use

Courtesy WSSC

Per Montgomery County: “The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and WSSC Water proudly announce the launch of the 2024 Salt Wise Campaign. This initiative aims to raise awareness about the impacts to our environment and drinking water from excessive salt use during winter weather and encourages residents to be “Salt Wise.”

“While salt is crucial for maintaining safe winter conditions, excessive use can have detrimental effects on our environment and water supply,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Salt runs off into storm drains, local streams, and eventually, to the Potomac and Patuxent rivers, which are drinking water sources for people in Montgomery County. Salt can corrode concrete and masonry, harm pets, damage surrounding plants and lawns and adversely impact resident’s health through impacts to the water supply, which is why we need to all use it sparingly and clean it up after storms whenever possible.”

The Salt Wise campaign is a simple three-step method for residents to keep sidewalks and driveways safe while also reducing harm to the environment.

Community members can take the following three steps to be Salt Wise:

  1. Shovel ice and snow early and often. 2
  2. Use one 12-ounce cup of salt for 10 sidewalk squares or for a 20-foot driveway.
  3. After storm events, sweep up excess salt for reuse.

Salt wise image 1

The Salt Wise campaign is a joint effort between Montgomery County and WSSC Water, a collaboration that underscores the shared commitment to environmental sustainability and responsible winter maintenance practices.

“Over the past three decades, salt levels have increased dramatically in our drinking water sources – the Potomac and Patuxent rivers,” said WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Kishia L. Powell. “And because our filtration process does not remove salt, higher levels end up in the drinking water. While our water is safe, increased salt levels in water can be a health concern for people on sodium-restrictive diets. With the threat of snow in the forecast, it’s perfect timing to remind people to use less salt by being salt wise.”

Salt wise 2

salt wise 3

“Salt is a key component in making our sidewalks, driveways and roads safe during winter storms,” said DEP Director, Jon Monger. “However, too much salt has adverse impacts on our drinking water supply and our local streams posing a risk to sensitive wildlife.  By practicing moderation with salt use and being Salt Wise, we can find a balance between protecting the public, our environment and our water sources.”

MCDOT manages the County’s snowstorm response and has implemented steps to reduce salt overuse.

“We apply the minimum amount of salt necessary to ensure public safety during snow events,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “We activate a Storm Operations Center, known as SOC, where staff is regularly checking and reporting out conditions and pavement temperatures around the county during snowstorms and we keep a close eye on the forecast. This allows us to determine if using salt is necessary in specific locations. We have implemented rubber tipped plow blades on all our plows, allowing for earlier plowing. We also use salt brine, a 23 percent salt to water solution to reduce the need for salt use.”

Residents can take action if they see piles of salt accidentally spilled onto roadways. MCDOT, who maintains County roads, advises residents to call 240-777-0311, or 311 from within the county, if they see a need for salt cleanup after a storm. Operators will contact the department responsible for a cleanup. MCDOT manages County roadways, the Maryland Department of Transportation manages state roads, Montgomery County Public Schools contracts for their properties, and the Department of General Services manages public facilities such as County libraries. For more information on how to effectively address salt use on residential and commercial properties, go to

Check the County’s  Winter Storm Information Portal  for information on snow plowing schedules, where to park your car safely, how to identify county-maintained versus state-maintained roadways, and more.

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