Winter Salt Reduction

Monona Salt Wise

This winter, don't be salty. Be Salt Wise!

Safe and Sustainable Winter Maintenance

As winter settles in, many are salting driveways, sidewalks, and parking lots to prevent icy surfaces that can cause injuries. While safety should be everyone's priority, it is also important to know how to properly apply salt for optimal effectiveness and sustainability.

Over-salting causes damage to concrete surfaces and structures, harms landscaping, and when snow melts, it carries excess salt into storm drains and into our waterways.

So this winter, Don't Be Salty. Be Salt Wise! Follow these simple steps to ensure your winter maintenance is both safe and sustainable:

  • Shovel: after a winter storm, clear walkways and driveways before snow turns to ice. The more snow you clear, the less salt you'll need to use. The less salt you use, the more money you save!
  • Scatter: when you apply salt, leave space between salt grains. It doesn't seem like much, but a 12-ounce coffee cup fits enough salt to treat a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares!
  • Switchbelow 15 degrees F, salt stops working. Switch to sand for traction or use another ice melting product.

Taking these simple steps will help protect our freshwater and save  you money, while still maintaining safe roads and sidewalks for our community!

Proper salt application

Proper salt application (Photo credit: WI Salt Wise)                                              Improper application - granules should be dispersed (Photo credit: Clean Lakes Alliance)

Why be Salt Wise?

Protect our water resources: The practice of salting roadways and sidewalks to clear ice in Dane County began in the 1950's. Over the past several decades, sodium chloride concentrations in our lakes have been increasing. Because chlorides are soluble chemicals, they combine with water and are carried into the water table or into freshwater resources easily. Overuse of salt in the winter is one of the main sources of sodium chloride in our lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Just 1 teaspoon of salt is enough to permanently pollute 5 gallons of water to a level that is toxic to native aquatic organisms! Once salt is in the water, it does not break down and there are currently no viable treatments to remove salt from waterways. If you can use one fewer 25-pound bag of salt this winter, you can help protect 10,000 gallons of fresh water!

Protect our soil: Chlorides do not bind to soil particles, so they do not filter out of the soil like many other chemicals. Once in the soil, chlorides can cause soil to become impermeable and infertile, making it difficult for the soil and plants to absorb water. Salt in soil can impact vegetation by stunting growth, causing brown or falling leaves, and causing dying limbs.

Protect our infrastructure, homes, and vehicles: Salt causes premature degradation of many materials. It can weaken the concrete, brick, and stone used in our homes, and it can damage the concrete and metal used for roads and bridges. Salt can also cause damage to your vehicle, bicycle, or mobility device. This leads to greater costs and the need for continuous maintenance. One ton of salt can cause between $800 and $3,300 of damage to buildings, bridges and other infrastructure. Applying the proper amount of salt to keep our roads and sidewalks safe will help you and our community save money.

How the City is Salt Wise

Monona is taking several steps to use salt wisely and keep you safe. To reduce its salt usage while keeping our streets safe, the City uses several strategies:

  • A salt brine solution is pre-sprayed on hills, bridges, curves, and streets based on forecasted snow events.
  • Snow is removed through plowing before salt application.
  • Salt is only applied if the temperature and weather conditions are appropriate.
  • The City's salt spreading equipment is calibrated to ensure the correct salt application rate is used.
  • The City's Public Works crew is Salt Wise-Certified.

To learn more about how the steps the City takes to ensure winter maintenance is safe and sustainable, please visit

Additional Resources

To help reduce salt pollution in our watershed, a coalition of city and county agencies, educators, and environmental groups called the Wisconsin Saltwise Partnership is working to get the word out about responsible salt use. You can help by educating yourself on salt use, visit to learn more.

Additionally, you can consider these tips and resources:

  • Spot Over Salting: If you see a business in the community over-salting, use Dane County's Spot Over Salting online tool  to report the location. Wisconsin Salt Wise will follow up with the property owner to educate them about the impacts of oversalting and provide them with helpful resources.
  • Sweep salt, save money: If the forecast calls for rain, sweep up your leftover salt from your driveway or sidewalk after it has done its job. This way, extra salt won't be carried in to our waterways. Plus, you can reuse your leftover dry salt and save money!
  • Get Salt Wise-Certified: If you are a winter maintenance professional, consider taking a free Salt Wise Winter Salt Certification class to ensure you are applying the precise amount of salt necessary. In addition to classes, Wisconsin Salt Wise has several training resources for winter maintenance professionals.
  • Use salt certified applicators: If you use a winter maintenance professional for your snow and ice removal, ensure they are Salt Wise Certified using this map!
  • Reach out to your neighbors: Wisconsin Salt Wise has several resources to help you get involved and spread the word about safe and sustainable salt application.
  • Test your water softener: wastewater treatments plants are not able to remove salt, so water softener salt ends up in our local waterways. Determine if your water softener is operating as efficiently as it can using this tool, or consider upgrading to a saltless water softener!


Cut The Salt, Wisconsin from Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine

Thank you from your Monona Sustainability Committee and Department of Public Works!

For questions, feel free to reach out to Thor Jeppson, Assistant Planner, at