By Corinne Irwin
Friends of Titanic Memorial Park, along with alumni of the Anacostia Watershed Stewards Academy, have joined Winter Salt Watch. This winter, we will be testing the waters of the Washington Channel and the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers to understand how much road salt travels into our waterways after storm events.
We are testing the waters in partnership with the Izaak Walton League, who explains:
Road salt (sodium chloride) is everywhere during winter months. It keeps us safe on roads and sidewalks, but it can also pose a threat to fish and wildlife as well as human health.
Fish and bugs that live in freshwater streams can’t survive in extra salty water. And many of us (more than 118 million Americans) depend on local streams for drinking water. Water treatment plants are not equipped to filter out the extra salt, so it can end up in your tap water and even corrode your pipes.
Several of us in Southwest fish these waters, and we all like seeing the birds and other wildlife that make their home in our local parks. Knowing how winter use of road salt affects our waterways might give us confidence that road salt use is being managed well in our quadrant. If our testing indicates issues, we can work with DDOT and local businesses to consider ways to keep the roads safe for people while we keep our rivers safe for fish and other wildlife.
Our baseline tests were performed from Nov. 26-29, and showed salinity within normal ranges at all four sites we are monitoring. Stay tuned throughout the winter as we test and report our results!