Salt on the Roads: Good for Safety, bad for the environment…

As we dig out from another winter storm here in the Northeast–and road crews work to stay on top of the snow–we’re all focused on getting around safely. Whether we’re driving, cycling (yup, people still do, despite windchills and slippery ground), or navigating on foot, clearing roads and sidewalks quickly and effectively is a primary concern.

And that means we’re using all kinds of salt. Nothing does the job as well or as economically–but we’ve been going overboard without thinking about where the salt goes. We’re after the plusses, but aren’t tuned in to the negative effects.

Remember last winter’s massive storms and those images of front loaders dumping snow into the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers? That snow is loaded with the salt and sand that gives us traction on the roads. What about the snowmelt that washes into the storm drains? You guessed it: this runoff is also loaded with salt–and it may be heading straight into local creeks, rivers, and streams. Studies are showing that sodium levels in waterways all across the country have been rising–and that’s not a good thing. Plants and fish are being adversely affected; in fact, the entire aquatic ecosystem is being thrown out of whack.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sandy Bauers wrote a good piece about the problem over the holidays. In case you missed it, you can find the article here >>

She draws from a study by the US Geological Survey that says salt deicing can turn waterways toxic to aquatic life. Check it out here >>

Thought provoking stuff. We want everyone to be safe out there, but let’s use our salt wisely. Like it or not, all of our actions have some unintended effect…

Missed the Screening? Don’t despair, the Green City, Clean Waters series is online

We had a great turnout to our Premier Screening event at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center on October 6 — and you’ll be seeing alot of us and the inspiring Green City, Clean Waters videos over the next several months. If you just can’t wait for the next chance to view the videos in all their splendor on the Big Screen at a community event, we’re rewarding your impatience by making them available on on Green City, Clean Waters Channel at

We’ll introduce a new one here each week. Check out the first video in the series now, and share it around:

Green City, Clean Waters from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

The videos are also available on YouTube, so if you’re more of a “Toober”, watch ‘em there, embed ‘em, email ‘em to friends:

Like what you see? Great news: The entire series, plus a handful of other videos showing innovative ways other communities are preventing runoff from polluting our waterways, will available on DVD soon!

Keep your eyes peeled for more details…

Join us for our “green carpet” video Premier

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and its many local partners are national leaders in understanding water resource challenges and pioneering solutions that improve our natural ecosystems and communities.

As part of our ongoing effort to highlight new ways of looking at rainwater runoff through our StormwaterPA program, GreenTreks has been working with PWD to document some of the exciting transformations that are taking place throughout the city – one home, one street, one neighborhood at a time.

Join us for a toast on the green carpet this Wednesday, October 6, to preview videos from our latest series. Green City, Clean Waters brings PWD’s work to life, and shows how their “green” methods of preserving and restoring our waterways protect public health and improve our quality of life in surprising ways.

GreenTreks and the Philadelphia Water Department present “Green City, Clean Waters”

Wednesday, October 6, 5:30 pm

Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center

640 Water Works Drive, Philadelphia

RSVP to:


We’ll be screening the following videos (total running time is approximately 50 minutes)

• Green City Clean Waters
• Creating Community: Columbus Square Park
• Greener, Healthier Play: Herron Playground
• The Watershed Connection: East Falls
• Keeping Water on Site: Waterview Recreation Center
• Green Schools: Albert Greenfield Elementary School
• Solving Runoff Block by Block

For information about the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, go here>>

For more information about PWD’s Green City, Clean Waters initiative, go here>>

If you can’t make the screening, get more information about StormwaterPA here>>

Major Advances in Pennsylvania Water Quality Protection

Thanks to the hard work of dozens of organizations that are part of the PA Campaign for Clean Water, as well as other advocacy groups, independent water suppliers, and state legislators, a pair of important new regulations cleared a major hurdle when they were passed by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).

The new regs, which fall under Chapters 95 and 102 of the Pennsylvania code, strengthen protections on water resources, drinking water, and watersheds. They still need to go through final House and Senate approval, but despite opposition from gas and construction interests, they are expected to pass.

For more information, check out the update on StormwaterPA>>